'The Bean' offered for sale again
|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."
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