“He loved his job and he made the most of it,” Adrienne said.
After his diagnosis, the couple opened their home for community gatherings during John’s battle with the disease. Their house eventually earned the nickname “Cafe Martin”.
After John died in 2018, his wife said, she decided she wanted to continue the tradition they started at home. This time, she said, she wanted to involve the Newton community.
Things fell into place, she said, when space at the West Street Tavern, a beloved local eatery at 7 West St. in Nonantum, became available for rent last year.
“It was important to retain the integrity of the old West Street Tavern and to merge the two communities, brands and legends,” Adrienne said.
Jill Keaveney, an old friend of Adrienne’s, has been going to Café Martin once a week since it opened.
“She wants everything to revolve around the community. She wants people to come in, have a good time and feel relaxed,” Keaveney said.
Cafe Martin bartender Jefferey Ryder said he worked with Adrienne in 1989 and became a member of the team after hearing about the new plan.
“There is something magical about this place. We call it Martin Magic,” Ryder said.
Since its first day, Ryder said Cafe Martin has “become busier and busier.”
Cafe Martin only opened for dinner at first, Ryder said, but now the restaurant is open with outdoor seating for lunch as well as weekend brunch.
Cafe Martin also strives to raise awareness for ALS through fundraising and Team Cafe Martin – an extension of the cafe community that volunteers at charity and fundraising events for ALS.
Adrienne, who sits on the board of Compassionate Care ALS, a nonprofit organization designed to help people diagnosed with ALS navigate their journey through the disease, said the cafe also has an “Artist of the month”, which features local artists and offers their work for sale.
“It’s another layer of bringing the community together,” she said. The idea was to create an inclusive environment with Cafe Martin to create an “elevated” tavern experience, she said.
In March, watercolor and acrylic ink paintings by Teresa Surette lined the walls of Café Martin’s dining room. This month, the cafe features the art of Surette’s 7-year-old daughter, Saige.
“The Newton community and people who loved West Street love it here,” Adrienne Martin said, “to find their home away from home.”
She said when her husband was diagnosed, members of Boston’s sports media and their community rallied around them.
“Café Martin is our way of giving back and continuing the love in the community,” she said.
Kendall Richards and Irene Chung can be reached at [email protected]