ADAMS, Mass. — Leah King and Wayne Gelinas, owners of 57 Park Street, plan to acquire and reopen the Miss Adams Diner this summer.
The couple, also owners of the Wigwam in North Adams, talked about their plans during a presentation last week to the Board of Selectmen about their interest in the community in which Gelinas grew up.
King said they were heartbroken when the historic dining car closed at the end of March and was put on the market. Owner Peter Oleskiewicz had reopened the diner in December 2021 but said the business hadn't been "sustainable" because of the drop off in customers during the week.
"When we found out that it was closed it was devastating because we had created so much foot traffic," King said. "There were people waiting for a seat at the diner who would come in and buy things. We opened at 8 o'clock because of overflow from the diner."
She said it was never on their radar to run a diner "but we're going to make it work. we just don't want to take a risk of another vacant building especially right next to 57 Park Street."
The couple opened the boba tea and gift shop in March after purchasing the building.
King said 57 Park has already sold nearly 3,000 beverages in its first month, being open only Saturday-Monday, and more than 1,000 baked goods. It's also created six jobs.
"That may not be a big deal for a business in New York City, or in a big town, it definitely exceeded our expectations," she said.
There's no name yet for the diner (which has had a few names over the years) but the concept will be "Miss Adams Plus," said King.
Initial menu items include breakfast, bakery items, bread bowls for chowder and chili, sandwiches, vegan/vegetarian items, her mother's pickled cabbage, and Taipei night market/street food.
She envisions it being open seven days a week from May to December and then Friday to Sunday during the winter.
"We want to bring people to Adams, starting with Park Street," King said. "Park Street is not very inspiring right now."
She said there are lot of empty spaces on Park and that they were drawn to Adams in part by the investment being made in the Adams Theater. The couple are looking to create complementary businesses to those already existing and partner with them to revitalize the downtown, and promote local artists and endeavors.
This month, they will be opening a service window and outdoor seating at 57 Park and launching online ordering. Music events will run every Saturday from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend.
This fall, they're planning a new endeavor — "Bubbles and Bites" — a wine tasting room with small plates catered by the diner. They will also continue their partnerships with local private chefs, Firehouse Cafe and Shire Cottage Bakery.
They're also planning three short-term rentals sleeping from two to four people in 57 Park and an art gallery.
"Our plan is to attract tourists and provide them with meals and beverage with those options while sending them to other restaurants on Park Street," she said.
King roughly estimated that the rentals would generate more than $55,000 a a month in rooms and meals and, between "Park Street Cribs" and the Wigwam, upwards of $111,500 in Adams alone before taxes.
Wigwam cabins are already booked out for the year and they don't open until this weekend, said King.
She said they often guide visitors to area attractions and plan to add Park Street to their recommendations. King thought it important to "grow the pie" by collaborating locally in co-marketing tactics and with the regional tourist office, state agencies and colleges. Adams could be promoted as a food destination, she said.
Long term, the couple is hoping that younger people will step up to take over the businesses they've built so they can retire.
Selectman Joseph Nowak said he appreciated King's honesty and willingness, saying the investment in Adams has been somewhat haphazard, with some being successful — particularly Yina Moore at the Adams Theater — and others not so much.
"Thanks so much for showing your interest in town," he said. "We really appreciate it."
Selectman Howard Rosenberg thought there was a lot of value in the document she put together on getting traffic on Park Street and the ideas for marketing.
"The support we have been receiving [from the town] has been incredible," said King, joking that the Police Department is addicted to her boba tea.
In other business:
• The board reorganized, voting in Christine Hoyt as chair on a nomination by Richard Blanchard. No other nominations were made but Joseph Nowak voted against, saying he felt "slighted" in not being chair after a dozen years on the board while Hoyt has been both chair and vice chair.
"I just think it should be spread out a little bit so other people can have the chance to have the chairman and I think I have the ability to be so," he said.
John Duval, the most recent chair, was not in attendance.
• Northern Berkshire Events Committee Chair Jay Meczywor spoke about the committee's goals and mission. It creates events for young professionals, fundraises for local endeavors and sponsors community activities. It recently partnered with the Adams Beautification Committee on a town cleanup.
• The board also approved the appointments of Stephanie Melito as a Financial Assistant 2 in the Community Development Office, starting at Grade 6, Step 5; Kathleen Polidoro as meal site coordinator for the Council on Aging, at Grade 2, Step 9 for 15-19 hours a week; and Jenna Harding as a seasonal laborer for the Department of Public Works, at Step 1.
Also, Cole Desroches was appointed as a full-time police officer at the Step 1 patrolman rate. Desroches is a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts student who is graduating this year with a degree in sociology and a minor in criminal justice and who has worked with the college's police force.
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Mass Audubon Sole Respondent for Greylock Glen Programmer
By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Mass Audubon was the sole respondent to the town's request for proposals to provide "place-based environmental education" at the Greylock Glen Outdoor Center.
The Lincoln-based non-profit returned an in-depth plan with a six-year project timeline. Mass Audubon was among the collaborators with the town in the early planning process for the 1,063-acre glen, of which about 50 acres is being developed.
It notes that the programs envisioned for the center — lectures, summit hikes, school field trips, bird walks and the like — would be tailored to demand as time goes by.
"[O]ur staff are trained to utilize a community engagement approach to understand from residents and other key constituents what they hope to learn and do where we operate environmental education programming," Mass Audubon's letter of intent reads, in part. "This data helps to inform how we design and implement program portfolios that meet our desired outcomes."
Town Administrator Jay Green said Friday that town staff will review the proposal before a likely presentation from Mass Audubon to the Board of Selectmen, which will decide whether to enter into lease negotiations with the non-profit.
Mass Audubon's proposed lease agreement calls for a zero dollar annual payment to the town for a five-year period beginning April 1, 2024.
A letter signed by Mass Audubon President David O'Neill explained that the non-profit deviated from the town's request for a 10-year lease because of unknowns related to the Glen development project.
The Cook Street park began construction last week, a public information session on the reconstruction of Park Street is set for Wednesday at 5:30 at Town Hall and the town is participating in a regional digital equity planning process with its first meeting in October.
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