PEPPERELL — Although the Pepperell Spa Cafe has gone through some changes during its month under new management, one of its strongest traditions still lives on inside.
At 5:30 a.m., new owner Mike Leary is still getting his first customers of the day. They are waiting outside. Once inside, they take their seats at the long table. It is time again for the Table Three Meeting.
“I was thinking of opening at 6, but if they want coffee, they’re more than welcome, ” Leary said.
Business owners, local laborers, town government officials, public-service workers and others can be seen gathered, sipping coffee and ordering breakfast. The meeting always happens, albeit with varying attendance, in the hours before the workday.
“We were expecting (Police Chief David Scott). We told him he had to come down one morning and check it out within the first couple weeks,” said Table Three-er Derek TenBroeck.
According to Scott, he drives by the cafe each morning on his way into the station on Main Street and has been busy.
The early rising Spa-goers are happy with the new owner. Leary took over the business from Paul Bozicas in July.
“He’s been very receptive,” said Table Three-er Carl Shattuck.
According to Table Three members, there was a card welcoming them back to their spot. Pepperell Spa Cafe had closed briefly during the transition for repairs.
“It has been a nice transition to new ownership. The Bozicas got a nice guy to take this business over,” said Jack McGaffigian.
Former Pepperell Spa Cafe owner Paul Bozicas is, according to members, looking well. Table members try to see him often.
Observing a Table Three Meeting is an entertaining and enlightening experience. Topics are usually of local importance, but matters of national importance enter the conversation once in a while. At times, the banter one hears can be confusing, even surreal.
Andy Crampton, who was the only Table Three member wearing a tie, one time refereed to the Spa as a Pepperell “institution.” This morning, he quoted Star Wars. Crampton enjoys being able to still come to the cafe in the morning.
John Dee, dubbed the “quiet comedian” by his fellow Table Three-ers, enjoyed Leary allowing for the tradition to continue.
Of course, each day could yield something different. The question remains: What exactly is a Table Three Meeting?
For all the nonsense chatter of people looking for their first cup of Joe, one answer may lie at the other end of Main Street at Town Hall. There, several weeks ago, an agenda item at a selectmen’s meeting spurred discussion about replacing the flagpoles at the VFW, an idea which began at the other end.
According to Table Three officials, the idea for the flagpoles was spurred there by compassion, which a few coffee drinkers have for their town.
“It was one of us. We just want to look out for what’s best for the town, those flagpoles certainly need replacing,” said an unidentified member.
It has been four weeks since Mike Leary renamed the restaurant the Pepperell Spa Cafe, put in a new bathroom and added new menu items. He is taking to the job well, he said, and enjoys newcomers and age-old traditions of the Spa.
“The changes I have made are going good. New families and kids have been coming in,” he said, adding the Spa has been drawing some hungry bike-trail summer traffic.
“It has only been a few weeks but it seems to be positive.”
Leary repainted the wall behind the lunch counter and added a bathroom behind the booths. The atmosphere inside may look more vibrant, but there are still salt shakers, laminated menus and, a special Spa staple, coffee.
“There was no way I was going to change that,” Leary said.