'The Bean' offered for sale again

By Glenn DrohanPrint Story | Email Story
Audrey Witter takes a moment to reflect on her future while sitting at The Appalachian Bean on Friday. (Photo By Glenn Drohan)

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The Appalachian Bean, referred to by many locals as "The Hub of Main Street" for the past several years, is on the market again, owner Audrey Witter confirmed last week.

Witter, who has taken a job as a local teacher's aide and just completed her teacher certification at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, said she wants to pursue a teaching career and spend more time with her family. She has two daughters, Hannah, 5, and Olivia, 1.

She had planned to sell the business to Erin Merrigan, a longtime waitress at the Bean, last year, but the sale fell through — although Merrigan has remained as manager of the restaurant. Witter said she remains bullish on North Adams and believes the Bean would be a good investment for anyone wanting to do business here.

"In the past, I always felt I had to be there or it wouldn't go, but I've been out for about a year, really. We survived the winter and it's thriving, due to good management by Erin," Witter said Friday. "When I first started, I was very nervous about the winters and the 'slow seasons,' but I'm pretty well weathered now. I just know North Adams is very much on its way."

While she would not disclose her asking price, Witter said she believed it to be "quite reasonable." The sale would include all inventory and equipment and rights to the cae's name. Inquiries should be directed to 413-663-7543.

Witter leases the restaurant at 67 Main St. from Scarafoni Realty. It has a seating capacity of 99 and is open for breakfast, lunch and special events. It also offers catering and hosts the local Unity group's evening meetings. The Bean will celebrate its eighth anniversary on May 15.

"It's been such an important part of North Adams that I really want to see it turned over to someone who's just as invested in this city as I have been," Witter said. "We've had some inquiries, but we're still waiting for that right someone."

She said she had no mixed feelings about leaving the business: "I still love it, but it's time to move on."

She said the customers, particularly the morning coffee crowd known simply as "the guys," have been her favorite part of the business.

"It's pretty tight-knit. It's like a family," she said. "When I first started, my thought was to put out a good product that was missing downtown. What came along with that, I couldn't even have imagined — all the people I've met and the relationships that have been made here. It's just really been wonderful."

She said one of her fondest memories is that of Joe Manning, Easthampton author of "Steeples" and "Disappearing Into North Adams," coming to the cafe and "falling in love with the city." He soon launched his "Bytes from the Bean" column, which has run in The Advocate for the past several years. Ironically, Manning plans to take a hiatus from the column sometime this summer.

"I see a lot of people writing here or coming here to read or study or work on their computers, and they're always welcome," Witter said. "The food has always been good, but I think people really feel the warmth here. They can sit and relax and not feel they have to rush to get out."

She said her daughter Hannah will particularly miss her owning the Bean because Hannah has often served as unofficial doorkeeper and has spent Saturday mornings at the cafe as "her social time."

"We won't go away completely," Witter said. "We're still planning to be customers. We love it here."

Tags: cafe,   coffeeshop,   

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Letter: Vote Bond for Mayor

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

I am proud to support Lynette Bond for mayor of the City of North Adams. Lynette has the knowledge and ability to succeed, the spirit and open-mindedness to collaborate and build consensus, the integrity and strength of character to make tough choices with clarity and compassion, and a love for North Adams that will make her a powerful and effective advocate and champion for our city and everyone who lives, learns, and works here.

When I taught in the North Adams Public Schools I assigned "To Kill a Mockingbird" to many of my 8th grade English classes. I've read the book dozens of times and a line that always has stuck with me is "You never really understand a person until you consider things from [their] point of view." It's a lesson in understanding and inclusion I emphasized with my students, and my children. This quality of empathy and consideration — this style of leadership — is something I have seen Lynette l demonstrate, personally and in her campaign. Lynette builds relationships, listens to people's concerns, and truly cares about every person in North Adams, our history, and our potential. She also is pragmatic and won't make promises she can't keep.

Lynette knows that education is a priority. As a former North Adams Public School teacher, I admire the leadership and tenacity that Lynette demonstrated as a champion for the Colegrove Park Elementary School project. I know she will bring the same energy and commitment to serving all North Adams students and educators as mayor and School Committee chair.

Lynette Bond is the right choice for the future of North Adams. She will be a caring, effective, successful mayor for everyone in our city. I encourage you to get to know Lynette, and to support her with your vote in the preliminary election on Sept. 21 and the general election on Nov. 2. Then, when Lynette is sworn in as the first woman mayor of North Adams, you will know we have a leader of whom we all can be proud.

Jane Bernard
North Adams, Mass.



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