ADAMS, Mass. — A Park Street institution will close its doors for good at the end of the year, closing out a nearly seven-decade chapter of serving the community.
Two generations of Haddads have operated the Red Carpet Restaurant since 1950, serving tens of thousands of meals to mill workers, judges, hunters, and everyone in between.
Originally called the Park Street Restaurant, it was opened by James and Ida Ziter Haddad, who relocated from North Adams to Park Street with their young children George and Ann, now in their 70s, who have run it the past few decades.
George Haddad, who's served the town in a number of roles including as selectman, said his father gave him some sage advice when they took over.
"You can make a decent living and you'll never go hungry. But you'll never get rich either. Put your head to the ground and never try to be something you're not, my father told me," said Haddad. "The original restaurant was in the cellar when it was Clifford's Lunch. If you go in the basement, you can still see a lot of the stuff.
"My father actually ate there when he was young because he was friends with the Clifford's son. I think it was 1926. My father used to run a restaurant with his brother called the Mohawk. It was a hotel, too. Then he bought this place in 1950 and after a while running both places, he decided he would make this his main business."
Haddad said the Park Street Restaurant had a big neon sign when it first opened but the name was changed after a major renovation.
"Then he remodeled and put a big red carpet through the whole restaurant. It only lasted about two years. He learned you can't put carpet in a restaurant," he said smiling. "So he ripped it out. Then he put the tile in that is still here today. We never got around to changing the name."
Among the biggest decisions the Haddads made was to remodel (several renovations have been done over the years) and take the lunch counter out of the front and also to stay open all day and start serving dinner.
"We took the counter out of the front and we were afraid we might lose business because people liked it. It ended up being the best thing we ever did. It increased our capacity from about 40 to 85, which ended up being the right size for the town and us. Business got better and better," he said. "Then the diner down the street started serving dinner. I talked to a salesman I knew and he said it might be a good idea. I didn't want to because I figured we'd have to change the menu and add new stuff but he didn't think so. So we started serving dinner and shortly after the diner stopped serving dinner."
Haddad and his sister, Ann Bartlett, took over the operations in 1980, along with their spouses Jacqueline and John. He said Bartlett has been there every second. But now they think it's time to close the doors.
"We've done it all our lives it feels like. It's just time. We have family we wanted to spend more time with. It's been great but it's just time to retire," Bartlett said. "We've had all of our children and a bunch of our grandchildren work here. We've had the best customers ... loyal."
Ann's husband of 50 years has been in working in the kitchen for more than 25 of them. He talked about it over a muffin and coffee.
"I came here in ‘93 when GE was laying off. I was a welder. I came here and it's made a living for both families," John Bartlett said. "I just feel bad that nobody's interested in carrying it on. It's a good business, greatest customers."
Many of those regular customers were on hand Saturday morning. They were all lamenting the news of the closure but were happy for the family.
George and Ann's cousin John Morin was enjoying his eggs and toast as he recalled how long he's been a customer.
"It's over 30 years ago. More than that really because I came here with my parents when I was young. I come here because I've been coming here forever and it's always good. Most people only stop coming here because they pass away," he said. "It's in your blood after a while. I probably won't go anywhere else. This is it for me."
Retired electrician George Lisee has been a regular for 65 years. Most mornings, George Haddad will pick him up and bring him to his spot at the counter. He has seen four generations of Haddad family work the restaurant.
"I'm really gonna miss it. Gonna miss my friends. I actually wired this place twice. George is a very caring person. Always found a job for someone," he said.
One employee in particular, Jake Millard, came to work for George and Ann in typical small-town fashion.
"When my brother bought the Sahara (currently Wojo's on Spring Street) way, way back, he bought it from the Oparowskis. One of the stipulations they gave him was, 'You buy the building Matt (Oparowski) goes with it.' Hiko, as we knew him, started working for my brother then. Most honest man you ever met," Ann Bartlett said. "He ended up coming over to the restaurant. His wife worked here. Now his grandson Jake is here."
She asked Jake how long he'd been here. "I'm 28 and I've been here half my life ...14 years," he said.
"Our staff — everybody who has worked here for years — they are all part of our family even though we might not be related," Bartlett said.
The Red Carpet will be open for one more month before closing its doors after 69 years. The last day will be Dec. 31, 2019.
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ADAMS, Mass. — The "Banners for Fallen Heroes" project has found a sponsor.
The project, which will honor Adams' servicemen and -women killed while serving the country with a banner hanging from utility poles through downtown, caught the eye of Adams Community Bank and it has stepped up to cover the associated costs.
"This is a no-brainer for our hometown. We know there will be some press obviously but we're not looking for that. This was something that was just right to do," said President and CEO Charlie O'Brien at this week's Fallen Heroes committee meeting. "These people have served our country so well, so nobly. Once we got some of the details everything just fell into place. It was something we had to do. We're happy and honored to be part of this project."
Selectman James Bush is part of the group and had trouble believing what he was hearing when he got the call from Senior Vice President of Lending Maureen Baran.
The Selectmen had asked Treasurer/Tax Collector Kelly Rice for a general health check of the town's collection progress at a meeting earlier this month and were pleased to hear her say on Wednesday that the numbers are generally positive.
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