As a potentially historic blizzard pounds Massachusetts with over two feet of snow and gusts of high-speed winds, a Waltham bar is doing what it has always done best: throwing its doors open to accommodate residents who want a juicy burger and a stiff drink - no matter the weather.
Shoppers Cafe on Moody Street, which opened in the 1930s, has always served patrons during chart-topping storms - from recent hurricanes like Irene and Sandy; through flooding that plagued Waltham a few years ago; and even through the Blizzard of 1978, said Paul LaCava, the bar's owner.
"We were open the entire time during '78," LaCava recalled, noting that he was in charge that week since his dad - the owner then - had taken a trip to Florida. "Since my father was going to Florida, he had ordered enough product here for a week. I had a full-time job in banking, but I couldn’t go to work, so I came here."
Today's snow storm, dubbed "Nemo" by meteorologists, proves no different for the bar: Lacava opened the restaurant as usual this morning, and expects to close at normal Friday hours, versus many other local bars that say they will close early tonight, if they haven't done so already.
And even though city officials declared a snow emergency parking ban for Friday, LaCava said that does not deter locals from flocking to his long-standing watering hole.
"There's still a lot of walking traffic here - it’s a very residential area," LaCava said, noting that he's expecting a couple hundred people to come into the bar tonight. "People are usually more happy and friendly in times like this."
He said that even his bartenders and waiters come to work without any complaints.
"Most of my employees live locally so they can get here easily," he said. "We also have a few four-wheel-drive vehicles to help pick up and drop off anyone who's working tonight."
LaCava said the bar is only closed four times a year: on Christmas, Easter, Labor Day, and Memorial Day. The eatery was also closed for two days earlier this week for remodeling, but now Lacava said he's ready to show off his new granite bar top.
"It's definitely fun, and it's something I always do anyways," he said. "We’re a public restaurant and we’re here to serve the public, and if we can do that, then we’re going to do it."
Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org