After 19 years – nine more than she’d planned – Anna Carol “Ace” Foulds will soon turn off the oven and coffee maker at the on Haven Street.
Since day one, her goal for the Hot Spot was, she said, to “make it a townie place.” As they ate, customers rehashed Town Meeting decisions, Foulds said, and solved the world’s problems. The café was once the home of the Horace Greeley for president campaign headquarters, according to Foulds.
“Sometimes we call this the Horace Greeley room.”
Foulds reached a milestone birthday in December. She turned 60.
“I said, 'I can’t do this forever,'” Foulds told Patch Thursday. “It’s the hours” – six days a week, nearly 12 hours a day on her four longest days.
“That’s the reality for a sole proprietor,” she said. During the first 10 years, her sister-in-law, Dianne Foulds, worked with her.
Foulds gets to the cafe between 5 and 5:30 a.m.
“I should be in by 5,” she said. “I press the snooze button too many times.”
She closes at 3 in the afternoon Tuesday through Friday. But that doesn’t mean she’s done working. She spends “at least another hour” cleaning up. There’s often a shopping run. Plus at least an hour a night working on the business end of the eatery.
A self-described “fugitive from corporate America,” Foulds opened the business after she was downsized out of a job as a project manager at Blue Cross and Blue Shield. She’d worked there for “just shy of 22 years.”
What to do after that by herself?
“I like coffee,” she said.
At that time, she “didn’t bake at all.” She has a cousin who married a fourth-generation Italian baker.
“He thought I was crazy” to want to bake commercially, she said. She apprenticed with him for a year.
“I sopped up everything I could.”
When, in the early days, a customer ordered a raspberry pie, she took the order. “Have you ever made one before?” she said Dianne asked her.
“No,” Foulds said. Reluctant to say “no” to a customer, she said she asked Dianne, “Got any recipes?”
Foulds’ work hours were particularly long around the holidays, Thanksgiving through Christmas. She missed a lot of events, she said, affecting her family, or attended, “too tired to enjoy them.”
Her husband, Alan, the Town Meeting moderator, was at the Hot Spot as much as she was, she said. Their daughter, Amanda, was nine when she cut the “grand opening” ribbon in 1993. The Foulds will celebrate their 16th wedding anniversary Friday. They’re going to dinner at a restaurant 16 miles away.
Her customers have become like family.
“I’ve gone to weddings and christenings and wakes – everything you do with your family,” she said, sometimes to deliver fresh-baked goods, sometimes as a guest.
The Hot Spot will close at the end of business on June 16, a Saturday.
Foulds isn’t sure whether an eatery will remain in that spot or what she’ll be doing thereafter. She’s considering working part-time.
She’s taken a memento, a piece of art from a customer, home. It hangs in her kitchen.
On June 18, when she would otherwise be opening the door to the café, Foulds said she will instead enjoy coffee on her home deck, followed by a run. She and her husband both run marathons.
Foulds said she’ll miss one thing at the Hot Spot besides her customers: the oven, which the Foulds use in addition to their home oven for their Thanksgiving feast. Alan makes a special cornbread, she said, and the oven “is better here.”