Housie Market Cafe closes; owner hopes for sale to community-minded buyer

GREAT BARRINGTON — It could be an emergency.

Where will we get those eggs baked into biscuits with salsa on the side? A Diamond in the Rough, they're called.

And the biscuits stuffed with gravy. What about those?

These are just two things one could tuck into at Housatonic's Housie Market Cafe, which closed Monday.

Owner Amy Hagerty is moving to California to be near family, and has the place for sale.

She's looking forward to the move. But there are some bittersweet tears streaming around town and on Facebook.

"It's hard to leave this community because I have so many dear, dear friends," Hagerty told The Eagle.

"It was a hard decision to come to but it's the best one," she wrote on Facebook, saying she hoped her post would be shared widely to help sell the 2,800-square-foot space.

"It would make me so happy to see it turned into another great local coffee shop, cafe or pub," she added.

Stone House Properties has the commercial condominium listed for $300,000. It includes part of the basement, and is topped by separately owned apartments.

Stone House's Richard Aldrich told The Eagle he's seen a lot of interest so far, and mostly to do what Hagerty hopes for — to keep it running as some sort of eatery.

So perhaps someone will soon restore one of South County's comfort stops and community gathering places.

But Hagerty's influence on the village community was a special kind of magic, residents say.

There were the Sunday suppers, and more recently Saturday Mexican suppers, all of which pulled people together.

"It's going to be really strange," said Beth Rose, a good friend of Hagerty's who lives in the village.

"I'm going to miss her, she's my friend, but having that space empty will be a big drag."

Rose also said Hagerty and the cafe had an important role there on the corner.

"It was a safe place for your kid to hang while waiting for the bus or for parents to pick them up," she said. "Amy knows all the parents."

Among those kids Rose is talking about is the steady pack of young dance students from Berkshire Pulse Studios down the street. Many would go to the cafe for an after-school snack before dance, or for an after-dance snack.

Hagerty was not new to the cooking business when she bought the Corner Market in 2014. She started that supreme staple of Great Barrington nourishment, Baba Louie's Pizza in 1995, naming it after her mother. She sold it in 2001, and later she had her eyes on the Corner Market.

"I bought it because when I moved here, I always had an attraction to that space and building, and when it came up for sale, I was just transitioning into what I wanted to do next."

She said she mostly ditched the market part of the business after about one year of operating it, and stuck to running a cafe.

"There was no profit in the market end," she said, though she still carried some basics like milk, eggs and butter.

And residents saw her as another neighbor — a really good one.

"People would stop in and say, `Amy, can I borrow a cup of sugar, or a lemon?' It's like walking into my home kitchen."

It was like a home kitchen in other ways, too. Hagerty held Sunday community suppers. And the owner of a local construction company would have his Monday meetings there with his crew. Hagerty would sometimes make a plan with them.

"I'd say, `I'm making lasagna for lunch and I'm making it for you guys,'" she would say.

Hagerty said she also loved seeing young mothers who had worked for her at Baba Louie's when they were teenagers, spend time at the cafe with their children.

"It was the thing that made me happiest about being there, such a gift for me to witness these great girls and wonderful mothers," she said. "It was a gathering place for them."

Hagerty said she hoped this little corner would continue to serve the village in the same spirit as her cafe.

"I want someone to come in and immerse themselves in this community," she said.

Reach staff writer Heather Bellow at 413-329-6871 or @BE_heatherbellow


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