blog

Staff of Rockland Trust

Aidan McDonough - Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Our final spotlight in our Season of Giving is to a business that while may not be small in scope, their involvement in the community makes them a standout with their support local strategy. The team at the Brighton Branch for Rockland Trust have shown their love of community time and time again, but it is not simply because their staff is made up of born and raised Brighton residents. Through volunteerism, sponsorships, and grants Rockland Trust has gone above and beyond in giving back and getting involved. And the mindset of investing in one’s own community is demonstrated from management down.

Pictured first row, Derek. Pictured second row (Left to Right) Shirley, Kris, Jenn (Asst. Manager), Kathy (Manager), and Sarah.

While the community watched and waited to see how Rockland Trust would present themselves, it was almost instantaneous how after acquiring People’s Federal Savings Bank in February 2015 that Rockland Trust got involved. The team has proven time and time again their commitment to Brighton. This year specifically by partnering with the Elk’s Lodge, Rockland Trust was the premiere sponsor to the Brighton Center Tree Lighting helping to provide the funds needed to support a neighborhood tradition. Additionally, members of their staff are even sitting on various local boards from the Brighton Board of Trade, Veronica Smith Senior Center, Oak Square YMCA, and even on our own Brighton Main Streets board.

A pattern that can be seen among many of these stories were just how invested these business owners were in becoming a part of the community once they found their own. Rockland Trust’s Brighton branch shares in that philosophy. They are on a first name basis with majority of the businesses that they call neighbors in Brighton Center, not just because the owners bank there, but because of how often they are going into these businesses to support these small businesses. Having Rockland Trust as a partner in the neighborhood has been so beneficial to our community. We can’t thank them enough for the opportunities they help create and community they foster, all in Brighton. Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.

Brandon & Matt, Matt's Barber Shop

Aidan McDonough - Wednesday, January 08, 2020

It was one year ago, this past week, that this new and modern take on a local barber shop opened up in Brighton Center. When generating a list of businesses to highlight during our Season of Giving, Matt’s Barber Shop was brought up numerous times. I had never been to the shop, so I wanted to make sure I had an idea of what I was going to find when I sat down to speak with the owner. It was often said in conversations leading up to speaking with Matt that, “This isn’t just your standard barber shop.”

Matt and Liz cutting hair while being interviewed and music plays in the background.

I met up with Brandon, a frequent client and friend of the owner of Matt’s Barber Shop to get some background on this relatively new business. “I have known Matt for about four years now. We met through the local music scene in Allston-Brighton. He is a musician too, when he isn’t cutting hair.” Brandon shared that whenever he is in this part of the neighborhood, he stops into the shop. It is not just to get a haircut and have a chat with his friend, but because the great conversations and people he crosses paths within the shop. “It really is such a welcoming environment in Matt’s Barber Shop. You see people that are young, old, different ethnicities, men, women, and anyone who really just wants a space to be themselves and simply get a haircut. There was this one time at the shop that sticks out for me. A woman came in with her son, and he clearly had special needs with sensory sensitivities. Liz, one of the barbers, showed a level of patience with cutting this kid’s hair that you really only see on TV.”

Pictured left to right (Matt, Brandon and Liz).

We headed to Matt’s Barber Shop after we wrapped up our conversation. Walking in to the shop, there was a queue of clients waiting for their haircut. While these customers waited, Matt and Liz kept the conversation light and funny with everyone, not just with the client in their chairs, and music was playing on the record player. I asked Matt what it was that inspired him to open up his own shop. “I have been cutting hair for 17 years, and 11 of those years have been in Brighton. I became motivated to open up my own shop with the mindset that ‘if you build it, they will come’...you hope.” Liz chimed in adding, “Besides giving someone a great haircut, we want to provide a comfortable space and experience, kind of like a clubhouse.” When it comes to their clients, it started off with regulars from Matt’s long career but the amount of new customers that they have gained and that continue to keep coming back was unexpected and has allowed Matt to start looking for someone to cover a third chair in the shop. What Matt highlights though is the generational component of his clients. “I have clients who come into the shop that share with me that I gave them their first haircut, and we’ve even started to get some second generation clients now that some are starting their families. It is really rewarding and wild to see!” When I mentioned to Matt, Brandon’s comment on his business being “modern barber shop,'' he agreed. “This is definitely a not-your-father’s barber shop! When you think of a barber shop, there is a pretty routine image that comes to mind. What we want to make here, is something completely different.” Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.

Rita, Viktor & Family, Brighton Gourmet & Cellar

Aidan McDonough - Tuesday, December 31, 2019

When it comes to Viktor and Rita, they know what they are talking about when it comes to their business and customers because of their upbringing with watching their family run and operate a small business. Having been open now for about 7 years, Brighton Gourmet & Cellar has become a standout in Oak Square by giving neighbors an opportunity to learn more about pairing a good wine or beer with gourmet foods and cuisines. A business like Brighton Gourmet & Cellar was made possible by this brother and sister team deciding to take a risk, trust their instincts, and share with a new community their knowledge and expertise that is built into their DNA. It is not only how their business has been received in Brighton but how Rita and her husband, Rami, have been welcomed into the community is what the siblings find most rewarding.

Brighton Gourmet & Cellar has a wide variety of fine wines and craft beers. Be sure to check out their refillable olive oil bottles!

I went out to Brookline to meet with Viktor first, because while Rita and Rami run Brighton Gourmet & Cellar, Viktor and his wife are running their family's first business, Foley’s Liquors. A Brookline staple with its old-timey billboard sign on top, Viktor and Rita’s family have owned the location since 1985. “People still come in and share stories about remembering us as kids when our parents ran the store. There is a photo somewhere of, when Rita was really little, her and our other sister climbing up on top of the fridge for cases. Our parents always had us at the store.” Viktor goes on to tell me about how the idea of opening a second location came about, “We wanted to open a location that allowed us to give someone everything they would need to have a fine meal. We also really wanted to invest in a community rather than go somewhere we knew our business could take off immediately by creating a store that kept people shopping in their neighborhood and also brought people into it.” The two of them decided to take the risk and applied for the license and just wait it out by looking for a location. Little did they know, that the opportunity would present itself in their uncle’s building that he owns on Washington St. Rita explained their start, “Before we opened, this place was a bookstore and the woman who owned it knew that she was going to have to close but she did not have anything planned for when it did. My uncle offered to let her have the last few months in the space go rent-free, so she could plan and save for her next chapter. By the time she had officially closed, was when Viktor and I were ready to open because we were approved for our license.” (That part of the story, their uncle’s generosity to the bookstore owner, gave all three of us chills as Viktor and Rita tell it to me.)

With Viktor and his wife having their hands full with Foley’s, Rita and Rami are the regulars you see behind the counter at Brighton Gourmet & Cellar. Rami at one point in our conversation said, “This business is like our third child.” These owners are so family centric that it has spilled over into the relationships that they have made since opening. “Our son, Fuad, has grown up at this Brighton location, just like I did at Foley's, and thank God for all the families and especially the Y for being so close to the store. We basically live in the neighborhood with the amount of time we spend with the friends we’ve made here or bringing Fuad to a lesson at the YMCA. We have begun to look into moving into Brighton because it already feels so much like home.” A family in particular that Rita and Rami have grown close with is Liz Sullivan’s, former Executive Director to Brighton Main Streets. When I reached out to Liz about doing a story on Rita and Rami the feeling was clearly mutual over how great this family has been to the neighborhood. “Rami and Rita have become part of our extended family! We get together often for playdates, and have watched the parade, and even done the Business District Trick or Treat together.” And Rita added, “Liz sometimes come into the store with William, her son, and the boys will immediately just go straight to the basement to play with Fuad’s toys. Our family’s have become such constants in each others’ lives.”

Pictured (Left to Right) are Rami, Fuad, Rita, and, the newest addition to the family business, Myriam.

I walked away realizing just how much Viktor and Rita make it so family centric in their business model. When they opened, Viktor and Rita admit there was some nerves of how will the business be received, but what was more important to them was welcoming the community into their own family. The two of them make clear that they believe that if you treat your business and everything with it like family, through supporting one another and the community, you can have a successful career. Before I finished speaking with Viktor he said, “We enjoy it so much. We love it so much. We appreciate it so much. And we don’t take any second of it for granted.” Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.

Randall & Three Piece Suit Football, The Last Drop

Aidan McDonough - Monday, December 30, 2019

Bars and restaurants are becoming a one-in-the-same identity. Many cities and towns use to have local pubs or taverns where workers and friends congregated just for a drink and chat before getting home for dinner with their families. If they didn’t have anyone to go home to though, they had a crew at the local pub who looked after and checked in on them, a chosen family. Oak Square in Brighton lucks out in having one of the longest running taverns in its neck of the neighborhood located at The Last Drop. From locals to students, to running groups, and even charitable neighbors this local staple has brought in people of all backgrounds to become regulars who frequently pull up a seat at the bar. Many residents actually come together throughout the year to support a local chapter of a worthy cause out of The Last Drop. I sat down with a committee member of the local chapter to hear about this interesting relationship between these two groups.

Pictured (Left to Right) are Randall, Ryan (bartender at The Last Drop), and fellow TPSF committee member, Andrew, with the Mitchell Nash Memorial Trophy.

Randall is the VP of the Boston Chapter of Three Piece Suit Football (TPSF) and a Brighton native. “The Last Drop has been under the current ownership since about 1988-1989 but this space has been a meeting spot for neighbors since before I was born. It almost has this romanticized feel to it, and it is not just because of the way it looks inside, but there is a generational identity to this pub that has helped us in creating the TPSF community here.” TPSF is a charitable foundation that supports Operation Delta Dog whose mission is to pair dogs with veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as they readjust after being deployed. “Doug Bacon, the owner, has been so generous to give us this space to organize for TPSF. Doug even generously donates every year to our two events, the TPSF Football Tournament and the Golf Tournament.” And speaking of their golf tournament, even that has a tie to the community built at The Last Drop. Randall shared with me that when he joined TPSF in 2016 he was in charge of putting together the tournament. And what does one naturally do when planning an event but ask the question, “will people even show up and participate?” Well, a neighbor by the name of Mitchell Nash signed up a foursome for the tournament almost immediately to help support a great cause. The night before the tournament, Randall received a call that Mitchell had passed away suddenly. “I was beside myself, and I almost talked myself into cancelling the tournament. Many people reminded me though that the reason Mitchell supported this tournament and this organization so quickly was because of the good it does for our veterans, but to also support his neighbors.” The committee each year now, since his passing, has given out the Mitchell Nash Memorial Trophy to the winners of the tournament.

The bar has a historical feel to it with the exposed brick and tiled floors. You can even play a game of pool or throw darts with your group.

Randall cannot help but beam a little about the fondness of the work he gets to do with TPSF at The Last Drop. “This was my parents spot when they came to this place while I was growing up, and now it has turned into mine. The name of the bar is just so fitting to the type of place it has been to this neighborhood over the years. The Last Drop has the “Latest Last Call” in the city, but it is also the last of its kind when it comes to a local pub. A meeting spot for so many people like the ‘Brighton Bangers’ running group, or even as the place to go after the annual parade or the tree lighting, it is nothing more or less but a place to simply be a part of the community.” I then notice the decorative slips of paper that cover the wall for those who gave $5 or $10 in support of the Winship School. It is a bar, there is no escaping that, but it is more than just a place to let loose while being safe. What you can also find when you are behind its red exterior is a neighbor who is there to support you or willing to get to know you, if you just pull up a seat at the bar. Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.

Kris & CafeNation Staff, CafeNation

Aidan McDonough - Thursday, December 26, 2019

 

Often a meeting space for business, study groups, or just a space to grab a coffee with friends or family, CafeNation has on its own terms has grown to be a neighborhood institution in Brighton Center after nearly 15 years. Located right where the 57 bus picks up and drops off, this local cafe seems to never have an empty seat inside when you peer through their giant windows. I sat down with Kris, the manager to the frontline staff, after running into them at Matt’s Barber Shop. When I explained the concept of the Season of Giving, they were more than happy to set something up.

CafeNation has extensive options from baked goods, sandwiches, and caffeinated treats.

Kris has been part of the CafeNation team now for three years and when I began by asking how they have noticed community being fostered and made at CafeNation, they shared an extensive list. Kris, with the help of the kitchen manager, Rachel Rodriguez, and owner, Alvin Tsang, strive to make sure that the cafe is always having new and fresh take on dishes and drinks, experimenting with different types of lunch specials, to specialty drinks for all to try. (If you have not tried the Butterbeer Latte, you are missing out!) “We just want to make sure we are keeping our customers happy. This allows us to take risks with the menu, and if they aren’t well received, we try again. It gives us the opportunity to get creative.” And speaking of creative, CafeNation is a huge supporter of local artists and creatives. The walls of CafeNation are always decorated with photos, paintings, sketches, providing a space for local creatives to showcase and sell their work. There is even talk of expanding on their support to artists, “We have been looking into other ways we can support local artists, and may even start to bring in live entertainment.” While we speak, Kris is keeping a watchful eye on the happenings of the business. A line started to form and they take a moment to help out with the rush, and as customers put in and receive their orders, Kris began checking in with their staff. They made sure the person who worked the morning shift went home to get some sleep, and then made sure the afternoon person was all-set before Kris headed out.

Pictured is Kris behind the counter. Their "office" one could say.

I found myself realizing that the conversation was turning into something else. When I asked Kris about any customers that come to mind when they think about community being fostered at CafeNation, they had numerous examples like the dog walkers who make it their routine to stop by the cafe for their morning coffee and a biscuit for their canine friend, or the grad students who come in almost every day and sit at the same table, and even stories of families and friends who hardly miss a game night at CafeNation. What I noticed though is the community Kris has made among their staff. I noticed a sign on display at the cash register awhile back, “Please do not assume staffer’s pronouns. Thank you!” I asked Kris about this, “Yea, that was put up more for me. I use to not make a big deal of it, but I finally got to a point where I needed to feel like myself. When I explained this to my staff, they were more than supportive of my identifying with They/Them pronouns. The staff have even begun to correct customers in the moments that misgendering does happen. We have a really supportive group behind the scenes, and it makes working here all the better.” Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.

 

Rep. Moran & The Blighs, The Corrib Pub & Restaurant

Aidan McDonough - Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Cities and towns all over the country have their neighborhood staples. From local diners to fancy restaurants, some of the most significant institutions in communities create opportunities for families, friends, and strangers to either gather around the table for a good meal or pull up a seat at the bar to share a drink. The Corrib Pub and Restaurant takes on this role for many members in our community. In the time that I have lived in Brighton, I have attended events like Christmas for the Troops, SPARK Boston’s Neighborhood Social, political fundraisers, to simpler routine things like birthday parties, holiday luncheons, and sometimes the unfortunate gatherings for those who have passed. The Corrib can play so many roles for our community and it is hard for anyone to walk away feeling dissatisfied. I knew the Corrib was special when my older brother, who is diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum, walked away saying how much he enjoyed his grilled cheese cut into fourths.

Pictured are members of the Brighton community catching the Patriots game during the Allston-Brighton Toy Drive. (That's a lot of toys!)

An annual tradition that has been happening for over 20 years is the Allston-Brighton Toy Drive. Now, the toy drive didn’t originate at the Corrib but has been happening here for the past four years. It all began when, prior to being elected to Beacon Hill, State Representative Mike Moran and a group of co-workers at a former bar, The Bus Stop, wanted to give back to those less fortunate in the Allston-Brighton community. They would gather the toys and several donations to then distribute them to the families in our community, making these contributions stay completely local. A neighbor supporting their neighbor. Once he was elected to office, Rep. Moran realized that the annual toy drive could become bigger and better, and invited the neighborhood civic associations to get involved. When I asked Rep. Moran about bringing this neighborhood tradition to the Corrib he responded by saying, “This event has really grown and evolved into a great opportunity for our community to gather and support neighbors. The toy drive started off at The Bus Stop, a former neighborhood staple. While the neighborhood has seen changes and businesses like The Bus Stop have closed, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It shows the growth that our neighborhood is experiencing and the investments coming to Allston-Brighton. A business like the Corrib that has overcome these obstacles, to become a community staple and hub for people to congregate, is a true testament that our community is invested in supporting businesses that brings people together of all backgrounds.”

First Photo: The Bligh Family, pictured left to right (Dave, Hubert, John) Not photoed are siblings Kathleen and Robert.

Second Photo: Rep. Moran and his family, pictured left to right (Eleanor, Helena, Rep. Mike Moran, and Adelaide).

During the toy drive, Rep. Moran’s colleague Representative Kevin Honan said about the Corrib, “The Bligh Family are pillars to the Allston-Brighton community. I have attended dozens of events at the Corrib from Father’s Day Lunches to political fundraisers, and everything in between. The Corrib means so much too many people in our community and we are lucky to have a space like this that is operated by a local family.” I sat down with the Corrib owner, Hubert, amongst the chaos of the event to ask him about the reception his business has received in the community. “This was never expected and I didn’t know it was possible. Running this business has always been a job in progress and we worked hard to establish ourselves. Since we opened 50 years ago, we have always been willing to open up our space for the community and we have always wanted to support the community in return. We get to play a small part hosting events like our Christmas for the Troops and several others. It comes down to that in order to run a successful business, you need to be a part of the community.” The responsibility of running the business is a family affair, with his kids John, Dave, Robert and Kathleen all playing a role in the everyday workings of the business. Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.

Abbott's Staff & Mary Pat, Abbott's Frozen Custard

Aidan McDonough - Thursday, December 12, 2019

One of the biggest distractions that comes with where Brighton Main Streets’ office is located is not the busyness of Brighton Center, but the sweet smells coming from our neighbor next door. Abbott’s Frozen Custard has been in Brighton for almost ten years now, and from my desk I have seen customers both young and old come rushing in when their doors are open. Growing up in Western New York, it was discovering the plaque in the window that shares that the original Abbott’s Frozen Custard was started in Rochester, NY that made this sweet spot near and dear to me. What some may not know about this Abbott’s location is that it is owned and operated by Mary Pat and that her staff is majority women. (Who run the store? Girls!)

Pictured is Mary Pat with Mayor Marty Walsh at “Mayor on Main”.

Upon noticing this, I was curious to see if this work dynamic was having a ripple effect with Mary Pat’s workers. I sat down with three of Mary Pat’s staff to not just talk about their love of Abbott’s but to learn more about the relationships they have with Mary Pat and the rest of the staff. Leah, Beth, and Kadi are some of the more familiar faces behind the counter at Abbott’s, Kadi & Leah both being from Brighton and Beth being a routine opener or closer. Diving right into the conversation I asked has working in this all women environment impacted them in anyway. Leah started off by saying, “This was my first job and it is all because of Mary Pat and the women who worked here, when I started, that I really have come out of my shell. We all can relate on so many levels and find comfort among one another.” The three of them agreed that the female work environment has made their times at Abbott’s one of the best experiences and have helped each grow immensely. Beth adds, “Mary Pat is more than just a boss to me, she has really become a mentor. When I started, I had gone to her about a very uncomfortable encounter with a customer and being a woman in those situations can be so stressful. Mary Pat worked with me and reassured me that ‘No one takes that power away from you. If the customer is making you feel uncomfortable, you ask them to leave. If they don’t, call me and I will be right over.’ and she will, even if it is a Saturday night. Mary Pat has instilled a level of confidence in me where I’m more comfortable taking on leadership roles now.”

Pictured left to right (Leah & Beth).


“I’ve worked for Mary Pat for 6 years, making me the longest standing employee in the Brighton store.”, Kadi said with pride. “All of the girls will joke that I eat, sleep, and breathe Abbott’s and they’re not wrong. Time and time again, Mary Pat has worked with me to accommodate my school and work schedules to make sure the ends are meeting. And it is not just for me, it is for all of her employees.” The three women share various times of how they have seen Mary Pat put her heart and soul into her store. From putting together massive catering orders, climbing ladders and being the store’s handyman, to hopping behind the counter and serving customers, all of them beam when they share stories of their time with Mary Pat. I asked the three of them what they do when they aren’t working at Abbott’s, and their answers made complete sense based off how they feel Mary Pat has invested in them. Leah, when she isn’t managing the store, is working to get her Bachelor’s Degree. Beth is finishing up her Master’s Degree in Library Tech. And Kadi has gone on to take a role as a Project Manager at a marketing agency in Boston. “Abbott’s is truly a ‘women supporting women’ environment and through that, we have gained such a supportive network.” Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.


Liz & Nolber, Teresa's Market

Aidan McDonough - Monday, December 09, 2019

On the campaign trail, City Councilor-Elect Liz Breadon received numerous questions regarding her stances on issues affecting our neighborhood, but every now and then someone would throw her a more personal question. One question in particular was,“What is your favorite place to eat in Allston-Brighton?” Being an Oak Square resident, Liz had a laundry list of places she and her wife like to frequent, so when she was asked this question and responded with how much she loved the fish tacos at Teresa’s Market, many had not heard of the business. Coming from a small business background, owning her own business but also while growing up in Ireland helping to run her father’s store, Liz values the need of supporting your local economy by shopping at your neighborhood businesses.

You may not have heard of Teresa’s Market because they are not active on social media and only have a website. Located at 571 Washington Street for the last five years, they are right on the bend as you drive into Oak Square. The exterior of their building is a bright blue, but even with the paint job you can walk or drive pass without even realizing it is there. Nolber, owner of Teresa’s Market, and his family are from Guatemala which is what inspires the entire menu for their business. It was while attending a Brighton Main Streets’ technical assistance program that Liz and Nolber met.

Pictured is the tables that replaced a few of the shelves.

I met with Liz and her friend, Siobhan, at the market over the weekend to grab lunch. The menu has too many tempting options, and even weekly specials and a breakfast menu to try. Siobhan shared with me as our food was being made, “The business has a great takeout crowd! The families from my preschool often grab dinner at Teresa’s Market after pick-up.” Because of growing up around her family’s small business in Ireland, Liz really admires Nolber and his family’s tenacity in keeping their business going. Teresa’s Market was originally meant to be just a market with shelves lining the inside of the store and a few takeout options. Nolber said many of his customers would mention how much they loved the food, but wished there was a place to sit down and enjoy their meal while at the market. Hearing this request often, Nolber removed some of the shelves but kept the essentials, and added tables so that customers may stay and enjoy their meal. Liz added, “There is a theme that I have noticed when it comes to immigrant small business owners. The owners always listen to their customers so they not only leave them feeling happy but feeling heard and valued.”

Pictured left to right (Liz, Siobhan, and Nolber).

Nolber stepped out from behind the counter to join us at our table as we began our meal. Liz, Siobhan, & Nolber shared a few laughs, spoke briefly to see how the other was doing, and then went on their ways. I asked Nolber as we got ready to leave what it was like to have relationships like this one with his customers. “Getting to make people happy and providing a space for our customers to enjoy their food, or a soccer game, is rewarding. People may not order out as much these days, but our growth is all through word of mouth. Seeing the response and the small success we’ve had shows us how much there is a space for us in this community.” Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.

Tony & Malis, Cafe Mirror

Aidan McDonough - Thursday, December 05, 2019

Tony has been in Brighton his entire life, and is always happy and willing to share stories of his memories as a kid. Seeing the neighborhood change and grow, Tony often recalls the names of businesses and storefronts that once lined the streets of Brighton Center when we start talking about the neighborhood. He has told me stories about the old Egyptian Theater, and has shared in full detail the entire floor plan of how the old YMCA on Washington St. looked. I met Tony at a prior role, and he mentioned how he would grab coffee with the gang at Cafe Mirror every morning. When I told Tony about the Season of Giving, he extended an invitation to grab coffee.

Pictured is the old Egyptian Theater in Brighton Center.

I arrived to Cafe Mirror and introductions were being made right out the gate, Tony was there with Diane, Louis, Dave. The group of them were talking to another gentleman when I arrived, who in the blink of an eye was handing me a cup of coffee, insisted he was covering it and was just as fast on his way out the door. I started off by asking the group why was it they came to coffee every morning? Was it out of routine? Or was it something more? Louis shared that he is often one of the first to arrive at Cafe Mirror, when he walks through their doors at 5am, but enjoys the hours of conversation had each day there with this group. Dave tells me how he has been part of this coffee group for 17 years and how great the staff are at Cafe Mirror. They even do little things like remember their birthdays and throw parties for them. In return, these coffee goers recently hosted a baby shower for one of the women on staff. The more we talked, the group of them agreed that while the location they grab their morning coffee has changed throughout the years, they find comfort in seeing these people everyday. People who remember parts of this neighborhood’s past that are a testament to just how much cities all over have changed in the last 50+ years.

Pictured from left to right (Dave, Louis, Diane, and Tony.)

Malis is one of the many members of this family-owned business who help to operate Cafe Mirror. You will often find Malis is working many roles to keep the cafe organized and moving. She was sitting a few tables over cleaning and sorting silverware when I asked her if this was something she had ever expected to happen, developing a relationship like the one she shares with Tony, Dave, Louis, Diane, and the many other seniors who frequent Cafe Mirror. “I like to help all people, it comes from my heart. If they come in and want something special, but it is not on the menu, we will make it for them.” Malis tells me how she has had issues getting to the cafe for opening from time-to-time, and to help her out Dave will pick her up and bring her to the cafe. It is through acts like this, Malis recognizes just how important those morning coffees are to this group. As I was getting ready to leave, Malis made sure to extend an invitation to their customer appreciation holiday party (Dec. 21st at 5pm) and the gang was insistent that it is always a great time and I should stop by. Getting to see the relationships formed between these neighborhood seniors and this immigrant woman showed me how Cafe Mirror is more than just a diner, but that it is a key local business you can find and build community at. Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.


Pictured is Malis behind the counter at Cafe Mirror.

Carol & Karen, Center Salon

Aidan McDonough - Tuesday, December 03, 2019


The relationship between these two is what inspired our Season of Giving campaign. I had stopped by Center Salon to meet with Tommy Tu, the owner of the salon, when I met Carol and Karen. Carol is a born and raised Oak Square girl and has been cutting hair at Center Salon for 25 of her 35 year career. Karen moved to Brighton in 2003 to go to grad school at Boston College. The two met when Karen was looking for a salon that could give her the exact help she needed for her haircare and one that was close and accessible to get t0o with her busy schedule for school. A friend had recommended she try Carol at Center Salon, and both of them agree that it was an instantaneous connection. Karen would go on to become more than a neighborhood regular for Carol for nine years while living in Brighton. And when Karen and her husband moved the family to Indiana in 2012, one would think the story would end there. Well, Karen comes to Massachusetts about two times a year to visit family and friends, but when she does get back to the Bay State, she pencils in time to get over to Brighton and see Carol. Since moving to Indiana, the two have been doing this for the past eight years. An almost 20 year relationship, it is no surprise hearing that Carol has been there to do hair for Karen’s and her sister’s wedding, first haircuts for Karen’s kids, and once in awhile Carol schedules a house visit to be sure Karen gets the care her hair deserves every few months.

With a story like this, I had to ask Carol, what she liked most about her job? Carol answered simply, “I like making people happy.” She then stopped treating Karen’s hair for a moment to exchange a smile with her friend. A story like theirs is what Brighton Main Streets is able to create through our programming or capture and share so that our local businesses and its workers, like Carol at Center Salon, can continue to contribute in making Brighton’s commercial district somewhere anyone can thrive and grow in. Help Brighton Main Streets by considering the Power of Giving Ten.


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