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Joanne Longton, right, and "best employee ever" Evelyn Szelest. Both are retiring after Monday.

Joanne Passing on Ownership of Elm Street Luncheonette

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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Evelyn Szelest and Joanne Longton on their last day at the Elm Street Luncheon. Longton joked that Szelest 'came with the place.'

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Joanne Longton's been behind the counter at her Elm Street diner for nearly a half century. But not after Monday. 

She's handing over her spatula and heading to retirement after 48 years. 

Joanne's Elm Street Luncheonette will be under new ownership but she expects it will stay much the same as the hometown eatery that has fed many Pittsfield residents from childhood to adulthood. 

Longton announced the news of her retirement over Facebook on Friday. 

"After 48 years in business, it's time for me to lay down my spatulas and enjoy life. It's been an amazing journey, I've made great friends during my time here and will never forget you all," the post read. 

"So many amazing memories. Please stop in to say hi and share a story." 

And apparently, a lot of people have been in to say goodbye to Longton and waitress Evelyn, her longtime "best employee ever," who's also retiring. 

Their last day of work will be on Monday before an employee, whom she declined to identify, takes over the operation. She said the only change is that diner will now be open on Sundays. 

Longton said she wasn't open on Sundays because it is traditionally a day of rest and family. 

She bought the Elm Street Luncheonette in 1974, adding her name later, and filling it with hundreds of photos of her customers over the decades. 

When asked what she will miss the most, she pointed to the nearly 50 years of returning and new customers. 

"It's very hard. It's not easy for me to do it but I need to do it.  It's time," Longton said. "It's been an amazing experience." 

Joanne's Elm Street Luncheonette, located at 123 Elm St., is currently open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. 


Tags: business changes,   restaurants,   

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Pittsfield Council to Tackle Tax Rate, Zoning Amendment Proposals

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday will take up the fiscal 2024 tax classification and a proposed battery energy storage overlay district.

On the agenda are public hearings for both items, with the tax rate continuing from last month.

The administration has requested a commercial shift of 1.75 that would result in a residential rate of $18.45 per $1,000 of valuation and a commercial rate of $39.61 per $1,000. After several councilors expressed concern about raising taxes, it was tabled.

"You are driving people out of Pittsfield," Councilor at Large Karen Kalinowsky said at the late November meeting.

The residential rate for FY23 was $18.32 per $1,000 of valuation and the commercial, industrial, and personal property rate was $39.21. If the council adopts the FY24 shift, there would be a 13 cent, or 0.7 percent, increase for residential and a 40 cent, or one percent, increase for commercial, industrial, and personal property.

An average home valued at $267,914 would pay an estimated $4,943 in property taxes, representing a $397.82 increase from the previous year when the average home value was $248,100. This would amount to about $33 additional dollars a month.    

Commercial properties would see a less dramatic increase of about $145, as the assessed median value has only increased by $1,550 from FY23. This would result in a tax bill of $8,377.52 for the median commercial property.

The Community Development Board has brought forward an amendment to the Pittsfield Zoning Ordinance by adding a new section under Chapter 23 of the City Code, titled the "Battery Energy Storage System Overlay District.” 

This would allow Pittsfield to embrace greener energy sources while protecting the interests of residents.

The goal is to provide regulatory procedures for BESS and BESS facilities, outline the application process for site plan approval and special permit applications, specify which districts are comparable with the use, discuss site requirements for each district where it is permitted, and require that interested departments respond with comments and concerns within 14 days of the application.

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