“Customers come in, look at me, and begin to cry. Naturally, that starts me crying too, which is the hardest part,” says 35-year-old Noelia Cruz when describing how several patrons reacted upon entering the subterranean A & C Hardware shop on Tremont Street . Mid-January marked the reopening of the popular neighborhood ferreteria owned by Noelia’s father, Andres “Cholo” Cruz, who was mercilessly gunned down during a senseless stickup there last July 18. Cholo’s only daughter said, “If there was anything positive about the past six months it was learning how many people in Mission Hill loved my father. The people of this neighborhood inspire me and in a strange way, I guess that’s my way of dealing with the grief…you just keep moving forward.”
Being busy appears to be a family trait and the exacting demands of operating a small business don’t seem to rattle Noelia, the mother of three sons and one daughter ages 16, 14, 12 and 4 years old. “I’m familiar with most of the stock and having worked in retail, I get it. I’m learning new things like replacing screens, and I’m doing inventory to stay well-stocked on a laptop… my Dad never touched one,” she says with a smile. Cholo’s nephew Jinito moved up from Maryland to assist his cousin with operating the shop and Noelia contends that the amazing response to the tragedy is what inspires the entire family. She stated, “The way Mission Hill honored my father’s memory makes me want to try to fill his big shoes and live up to his example… it feels right and I’ll try my best.”
The reaction to seeing Mission Hill’s only hardware store operating once again is comprehensively positive. Mission Hill Main Streets President Michel Soltani remarked, “This news made my day. Every shop in the district had an ongoing account with Cholo’s because he supplied us with everything we needed. I know a couple of folks who want to settle their accounts to keep this important business thriving. The best way to honor our friend is to assist his family in supporting themselves.” I don’t know how anyone could say it better than that!
Some small business notes: Mission Hill Yoga is a welcoming business on the ground floor in that gorgeous newly constructed building at 1467 Tremont Street next to the Tobin Center. Cassandra Foster is the Yoga Alliance certified fluid yoga teacher and the studio offers classes in Vinyasa, Broga, Mind Yoga, Flow & Refine, Brunch Crunch, Yin Yoga and a whole lot of other stuff I know nothing about! However, Cassi’s enthusiasm, professionalism and positive outlook convince me that her studio will be hugely successful. I think I’ll recommend this place to some of my former colleagues still holding elected office. With so many contortionists in politics these days they must need a place to untangled themselves and walking again along the straight and narrow path.
Konstantine Papadopoulos is getting ready to open his Papa’s Pizza at 682 Huntington Ave. with an exciting new menu of pizzas and other homemade specialties. Papa’s (suitably named) will be opening where Nasser Othman’s Il Mondo New Jersey-style Pizza operated for many years next to the Squealing Pig. Il Mondo is moving to the site formerly operating as the GRUB poutine restaurant at 738 Huntington Ave. in Brigham Circle.
One cute little coffee shop I’d recommend is a little breakfast and lunch spot at 800 Huntington Ave. run by the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Clinic’s aptly dubbed the Eye Opener Café. Lauren and her crew are always pleasant and polite, the food is fresh, the place is spick and span, and the prices are reasonable…always a winning combination.
The general opinion around Mission Hill following the sudden retirement of John McGonagle following his decades of service as community relations director for Brigham and Women’s Hospital was that John would be impossible to replace. I’m happy to report that Brigham’s Community Health Operations and Projects Director Shirma Pierre appears to be stepping into the void with both feet, even though community relations has been an additional duty thrust upon her. This bright young Hyde Park woman appears to be a quick study with a passion for community service and an infectious personality. Main Streets wishes her the very best.
It has been a half year since our state Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez was selected for what is widely believed to be among the most challenging posts anywhere in government, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Forging consensus among 159 fellow representatives, satisfying the slings and arrows of special interest groups from across the Commonwealth, haggling with slippery senators and a widely popular governor, all combine to make the job a thankless one. My sources divulge that Jeffrey has engrossed himself in the job earning widespread respect and is considered shrewd, industrious and very much his own man. As in most things in life, quality continually confirms itself and the cream always rises to the top.