Blane Withers and Barbara Gold
Marty's was brought to life as a tribute to the talent and distinguished career of Roxbury resident Martin O'Brien who lost his battle with cancer July 22, 2005.
Marty built a distinguished career as advisor to developers in the luxury hotel industry. His early days of hotel management included New York's Waldorf Astoria and St. Regis Hotels and after spending time in the middle east opening palaces for the late King Hussein of Jordan, Marty traveled the world opening hotels for ITT Hospitality and Ian Schrager Hotels. More recently Marty partnered with Ridgefield resident Stephen Goldstone at the Boulders Inn on Lake Waramaug.
Marty and his partner G. Blane Withers intended to open a version of Marty's together when Mr. O'Brien's life was tragically cut short. Blane and his good friend Barbara Gold decided to continue the project in his name and with his inspiration.
I never got to meet Martin O'Brien - Marty. But I know from Barbara and Blane that he was smart and creative and that he cared deeply for people. I think that I would have liked him very much and I think that he would appreciate how -
his legacy lives on.
as told to Dana Roc
His name was Martin O'Brien and we were together for 10 1/2 years. I never called him Marty, though. He was a stoic figure and everybody that worked for him called him "Mr. O'Brien".
The context of our relationship changed when it was apparent that the cancer and its treatment were going to completely change his life. He recognized that I had a quality of life here that maybe he didn't have, and we talked about doing something like Marty's, together, but I had never walked on his turf and he had never walked on mine.
Barbara and I played a lot of tennis last summer and we became close because she is very knowledgeable in healthy eating. Marty's objective at that time was to gain weight. So, the three of us ended up spending a lot of time together because Barbara was helping me help Marty eat food that would help him.
He didn't get better.
Marty died in July and Barbara and I just kept spending time together.
It was a rainy day and we couldn't find a place to get a cup of coffee. It came up in conversation that Marty and I had talked about doing something. I guess I had planted a seed. The next time we went to play tennis, she brought it up. The conversation started and by October 1st we were fully into the project.
There is not a lot that I am afraid of. I have had 3 or 4 opportunities in life to take a leap of faith. I have always been proud that it just came from within. With this project I sat on it. After Marty died I kept my mouth shut. Some of it was fear and some of it was that I was distracted. I was enjoying my grieving and I didn't want anybody to take that away from me. And then the time was right and it was like --
"Let's put our money where our mouth is!"
That's how Marty's got started.
Barbara: I needed a change in my life as much as Blane, who was mourning Marty, did.
Deep inside I knew when I was a little girl that something like this was going to happen. I always wanted to do something like this, although, consciously I never thought that I would do anything about it. Anytime I saw cute little, funky cafe in the city or along my travels, I was always intrigued. I took it all in, never thinking that I would actually do anything with it until this opportunity came along,
until I made this opportunity happen.
I am a professional producer for TV commercials, but I wanted something that I could be connected to and call my own. I knew somehow that this would work out.
Blane and I kept talking and nine months later, with our opening date set way in advance, we did it! I can't even believe the whole thing happened! If I would have stopped to think about it for one minute "What am I doing" or "Can we do this", it might not have happened. The train was on track. We just got on board.
Marty’s is already taking steps to do our part in contributing to the community.
Please visit our website: http://www.seeyouatmartys.com/ for details on upcoming events.
Blane: I love Barbara. It's been fascinating to get to where we are right now because we don't think the same way and we don't communicate in the same way. We have had some real "Knock-down-drag-outs".
I have learned to collaborate because of Marty's which is never something that I have been forced to do. I have never been in a situation where I have had to collaborate with someone, but I have watched myself like a bug on the wall working with Barbara. It is easy for me to put my foot down and say "It's my way or the highway!" This is my idea! Let's get on with it." But we have this expression between us --
"You can judge me but don't drop me."
That for me personally has been very gratifying.
ON THE COMMUNITY
Barbara: I fell in love with this community even though I was more of a weekend person and not as connected as I wanted to be. The local community needed a place to meet and congregate and so we geared everything around the local community. We have forty different magazines, every newspaper that you would want to read, Wi-fi set up, beautiful coffee table books, checkers and chess...We have had the knitting club here and book readings. Businesses have meetings here.
I can't believe it! It is so exciting!
The most precious moment for me was one day when I walked out of the kitchen and there were two elderly women sitting enjoying their coffee on one side, on another side there was a new mother with her baby who was meeting a friend, there was a group of guys in their early twenty's who were playing chess, there were a couple of people on their computers, There was a woman who is a local writer who had just been sitting there all day doing her writing. It was just so great to see all ages and all kinds of people all enjoying Marty's for whatever they came to get out of it.
We are still making adjustments and we can not believe that since the door opened on our targeted date, before Marty's birthday which was March 30th, we have had a steady stream of customers.
ON THE EXPERIENCE
Blane: Everyone is welcome here. We want the contractors to feel comfortable coming in here, too. I want the people who want to buy a $1.25 cup of coffee to come in here. They might be experiencing a sophisticated aesthetic but it is still $1.25 for a cup of coffee. Like the Internet access - its state of the art equipment somebody can come in and check email and surf the Internet and it doesn't cost them a dime.
We want people to feel like they belong. I hope people feel like this is a real community; a place where they can come and "hang out".
THE BEST PART
Blane - Last summer, I just couldn't live with the grief. I needed to do something that kept Marty close to me. Going through this project has helped me through the healing process.
There are days when I think "What have I gotten myself into?"
But I have this theory that every day you should reach back and grab somebody by the hand. Actually I think I read that in Dana Delivered! Well, it stuck with me that there is at least one opportunity today to make somebody else feel better about themselves. If I don't lose sight of that, even if the day isn't gratifying for me, I might be able to take comfort in the fact that I made somebody else feel good or I did something for somebody else and hopefully that sentiment will be passed on to another person.
It is sort of bitter sweet that Marty is not here to see this. He is the angel on our shoulders. He is pleased.
Marty's Cafe - Gallery - Internet