Golden Girls Baristas to Bid Farewell
Asante Ashland Community Hospital’s coffee bar will close in December
November 7, 2014
ASHLAND, Ore. — Employees know them as Peggy and Mary. Patients know them as Asante Ashland Community Hospital’s “golden girls,” the friends in yellow aprons who have owned and operated the coffee bar inside the hospital’s lobby for nearly nine years.
"Golden Girls", Peggy Hutto and Mary Cooper
On December 19, Peggy Hutto and Mary Cooper (pictured on the right) will close Golden Girls Espresso & Cafe – and another chapter in their long history with the hospital. Changing times slowed business, the pair say, and in recent years their labor of love became harder to sustain.
But they’ll leave with memories that stretch back years, first when they volunteered for the hospital’s auxiliary and later, in 2006, when they decided to take over the espresso stand.
Although Peggy owned a travel agency in Los Angeles before she and her husband retired to Ashland in 1996, she had never been a barista. And Mary was more familiar working with physicists and engineers in her former career in Northern California than she was making venti macchiattos.
In fact, the two never learned “Starbucks-ese,” as they call it. They just asked their customers to order a small, medium or large and to “tell us what you want in it,” Peggy recalls. They improvised their business, collecting coffee recipes that they logged into a spiral notebook and buying pastries and snacks at local markets.
Aside from weekends and holidays, they’ve closed the espresso bar only twice: once to take a trip to Montana and again to celebrate Peggy’s 80th birthday with 15 friends and relatives in Las Vegas – details of which will stay in Vegas.
By location and the warmth of their personalities, they are the hospital’s unofficial greeters. Regular patients know them by name; employees stop to chat. The close-knit community provided comfort to the women, particularly after Mary’s husband died in 2010. (Peggy lost her husband in 2005.)
“We appreciate all the support the people here have given us,” Mary says. “The friendships and the loyalties.”
For the hospital’s staff, the feeling is mutual.
“We truly appreciate the dedication they’ve shown over the past nine years,” says Sheila Clough, the hospital’s chief executive. “Their smiling faces and friendly greetings have been an added benefit to our organization – and to our patients.”
Sheila says the hospital is assessing what to do after Golden Girls closes.
“We believe coffee and snacks are valued by our patients, visitors and staff,” Sheila says. “So a task force from dietary and volunteer services will evaluate innovative options and share a plan in the near future.”
In the meantime, customers with prepaid Golden Girls cards are urged to use up their balances before December 19.
Share your well wishes for Peggy and Mary on Facebook or stop by the coffee bar inside the hospital at 280 Maple St. in Ashland.
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