Nancy and Barry Garton have been in the food service business for more than three decades. They are retiring after the operating Brewhaha for the last 23 years.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Brewhaha owners Nancy and Barry Garton have sold the cafe and are looking forward to a well-deserved break.
Although, saying goodbye has not been easy.
"To me, it has always been the relationships with our people. I love it here and the fact that they appreciate what we try to do," Nancy said on Monday. "When I look back I think that is what has made us successful. The support and the memories have really made it all worthwhile because it has been hard work. Really hard work."
The Gartons opened Brewhaha on Marshall Street in 2000. Before that, they had operated the Miss Adams Diner in Adams since 1989. They made the move to the old West End Market in 2018 — a dozen years after purchasing the historic neighborhood market.
"Barry will say that you have to be present as the owner," Nancy said. "You have to do things with quality, care, and a little flair."
Barry added that has always been the way they conducted their businesses.
"We have been in the food industry since the '70s so everything has been a continuation of that," Barry said. "High-quality ingredients and just banging away at it."
Monday was Brewhaha's last day open after announcing last week that they had a buyer for business and building, which has been on the market for some time. The Gartons invited patrons down for one last cup of coffee Monday and to present some of the mementos from the cafe for sale.
During the interview, Nancy's eyes kept trailing toward the door as another longtime customer came in to say goodbye.
"They're happy for us and sad for themselves. They want our home address so they can come for breakfast," Nancy said. "That has been the theme with everyone. No one wants to lose touch. People are going to miss the ability to just come down here and hang out, relax and have a place to be a community."
She tearfully quoted some of the sentiments from a guest journal they left open throughout the day saying people have written that Brewhaha was a hidden gem, cozy, and was home to many.
"We just had some sort of knack. I am a yapper and Barry is creative and the hardest-working person I have ever met in my life," she said. "He works from sun up to sun down, and I like to socialize."
It was difficult to tell that Brewhaha was closing for the final time Monday afternoon as Barry pinged around the kitchen whipping up orders like it was any other day.
Barry hasn't really thought about closing up shop quite yet.
"I will miss it when I am gone because when you have your nose to the grindstone from 6 in the morning until 6 at night it is hard to think about what you will miss," Barry said.
Still in the moment, when asked about what he plans to do next Barry answered literally: loading, unpacking, getting rid of junk.
When asked about retirement he didn't have an answer.
"I don't know. I can't relate to the word yet," he said. Maybe sooner or later."
Nancy didn't have much to say about the new owner but noted they purchased the building and equipment. She guesses it will remain some kind of restaurant.
"We wanted a buyer who wanted to see the building keep going and they purchased the building and all the equipment," she said. "We know nothing beyond that."
Both in their 70s, Nancy said it was time to move on as time was catching up with them
"We are too old and it is hard to be a line cook with a line out the door. Just the pace is hard to keep up with," she said. "But I know there will be moments when I will miss cooking. I love putting out a plate that looks beautiful. I like making people happy. I am going to miss that."
"I am going to miss my people, the hugs, the love, every single person even the strangers. I like to win people over, I like to make people happy, and I am going to miss that."
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How can women bridge the retirement gap?
Submitted by Edward Jones
March 8 is International Women's Day, a day for celebrating all the accomplishments of women around the globe. But many women still need to make up ground in one key area: retirement security.
Women's challenges in achieving a secure retirement are due to several factors, including these:
Pay gap – It's smaller than it once was, but a wage gap still exists between men and women. In fact, women earn, on average, about 82 cents for every dollar that men earn, according to the Census Bureau. And even though this gap narrows considerably at higher educational levels, it's still a source of concern. Women who earn less than men will likely contribute less to 401(k) plans and will ultimately see smaller Social Security checks.
Longer lives – At age 65, women live, on average, about 20 more years, compared to almost 17 for men, according to the Social Security Administration. Those extra years mean extra expenses.
Caregiving responsibilities – Traditionally, women have done much of the caregiving for young children and older parents. And while this caregiving is done with love, it also comes with financial sacrifice. Consider this: The average employment-related costs for mothers providing unpaid care is nearly $300,000 over a lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Labor — which translates to a reduction of 15 percent of lifetime earnings. Furthermore, time away from the workforce results in fewer contributions to 401(k) and other employer-sponsored retirement plans.
Ultimately, these issues can leave women with a retirement security deficit. Here are some moves that can help close this gap:
Contribute as much as possible to retirement plans. Try to contribute as much as you can afford to your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan. Your earnings can grow tax deferred and your contributions can lower your taxable income. (With a Roth 401(k), contributions aren't deductible, but earnings and withdrawals are tax free, provided you meet certain conditions.) At a minimum, contribute enough to earn your employer's matching contribution, if one is offered, and try to boost your contributions whenever your salary goes up. If you don't have access to a 401(k), but you have earned income, you can contribute to an IRA. Even if you don't have earned income, but you have a spouse who does, you might be eligible to contribute to a spousal IRA.
Maximize Social Security benefits. You can start taking Social Security at 62, but your monthly checks will be much bigger if you can afford to wait until your full retirement age, which will be around 66½. If you are married, you may want to coordinate your benefits with those of your spouse — in some cases, it makes sense for the spouse with the lower benefits to claim first, based on their earnings record, and apply for spousal benefits later, when the spouse with higher benefits begins to collect.
Build an emergency fund. Try to build an emergency fund containing up to six months' worth of living expenses, with the money kept in a liquid account. Having this fund available will help protect you from having to dip into your retirement accounts for large, unexpected costs, such as a major home or car repair.
It's unfortunate, but women still must travel a more difficult road than men to reach retirement security. But making the right moves can help ease the journey.
Growing up in Boston, he majored in biology at Boston College, where he also lettered in football for the Eagles. He would go on to Tufts Medical School but took a year off graduate school and taught during the busing crisis of the 1970s.
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