By Bonnie MacPherson
The red gambrel style barn with white trim located in Ludlow, next door to Okemo’s Clock Tower base area, has received a fresh coat of paint. But something is missing. The faded sign on the exterior wall facing Okemo Ridge Road that proclaims, “Home of warm beer, lousy food and grumpy owner” is gone. That’s because Tom Koch, the self-proclaimed grumpy owner of The Loft Tavern has sold his quintessential après ski bar and restaurant business to three entrepreneurial women.
Okemo skiers and riders don’t need to be concerned. The three women, Becky Holland, Dorothy Josselyn and Marie O’Hare, are longtime employees who have been serving up pints of draft beer, massive platters of nachos, meaty chicken wings and the hearty tavern fare that has made The Loft a favorite with locals and visitors alike.
Koch was the one who first suggested that the three women buy the business. “It came up a couple of times,” explained Dorothy Josselyn. “Tom said that he wanted us to keep things going after he retired.”
Following a short break to get things in order and make some behind-the-scenes upgrades, The Loft reopened under new ownership on Friday, Sept. 9.
When asked how things were going, Marie O’Hare said, “Really good! Getting everything together from the beginning was stressful, but the first day we opened was great. Most people are embracing the change in ownership, and we got lots of hugs.”
Becky Holland added, “We have such a great local base of customers who have shown support.”
Holland, Josselyn and O’Hare are so compatible as co-workers, they tend to finish each other’s sentences and eagerly confirm one another’s opinions. O’Hare has been working at The Loft the longest, seven years, and Holland and Josselyn have each logged five years.
“We’re all restaurant junkies with a similar work ethic,” said O’Hare. “We’ve all tried the nine-to-five, and it was terrible. I love that every day here at The Loft is different.”
She was quick to add that working at The Loft was the hardest job she has ever done in the field. The others agreed. The tremendous volume of business and requires that “you do everything—whatever it takes to get the job done,” they explained.
The burning question — and theme of local rumors — is: what has changed? “We didn’t change anything,” O’Hare answered. “We have all of Tom’s original recipes and the core menu is the same. Everyone’s favorites can still be found on the menu.”
Holland added that the kitchen staff will be trying some new specials and popular soups will be returning when cooler temperatures arrive.
“Tom has been such a father figure to all of us,” said Josselyn. “We want to say ‘thank you’ to him. We love him and see this change in ownership as a passing of the baton. This was his baby; we just make it shine.”
For more information visit: Facebook.com/lofttavern.