By Zack Lamothe.

Tiles painted by the residents are displayed on the Cafe walls.

In December 2020 the Cardinal Cushing Centers in Hanover opened a new state-of-the-art restaurant, the Cushing Cafe. The Cafe, located on Columbia Road (Route 53) serves breakfast and lunch, Monday through Saturday. Not only is the food excellent, but the Cafe is an integral part of the community, providing employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities. It is also a vital component of the vocational program at the Cardinal Cushing School.

 A Great New Addition

At Cardinal Cushing, a cafe has been part of the campus for 25 years, but the new facility has breathed new life into the restaurant. The community has taken to Cushing Cafe with open arms and hungry bellies. Regular customers anxiously awaited the reopening of their favorite breakfast and lunch spot. First-time patrons have also found their way to Cushing Cafe. With a prominent location on the bustling Route 53, and customer buzz about the menu and atmosphere, the community has truly embraced the new restaurant.

A Bit of Background

The Portiunicula Chapel, a well-recognized Hanover building on route 53.

The Cardinal Cushing Centers, Inc., provides schooling, employment, residential services, and recreational opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, promoting meaningful relationships within the community. Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of the Boston Diocese, with the assistance of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Assisi from Milwaukee, started the school as St. Coletta by the Sea in 1947. In 1971, a year after Cushing’s death, the school’s name was changed in tribute to him.

An anchor in Hanover MA for more than 70 years, the Cushing Centers are an integral part of the town. The symbiotic relationship between the two has fostered relationships for decades. One pillar of the mission of the Cardinal Cushing Centers is the concept of community for the individuals they serve. The reopening of the Cushing Cafe has reinvigorated the community through the delicious food served here. Maren Geloran, who runs the Cafe, and her team cannot be more pleased with the community’s response to the new Cafe. She notes, “The number of existing customers and new customers is the same!” New customers quickly become repeat customers after their first visit.

The Complete Menu—Food & Opportunities

The menu consists of breakfast and lunch items with specialties that change with the season. Customers can pick up a grab-and-go coffee, bakery item, or quick bite. They can also choose from an array of sandwiches, soups, or breakfast options. A popular sandwich is the Cushing Club, which features spicy candied bacon and avocado to enhance the traditional club sandwich. For breakfast, the homemade scones are a customer favorite, available in flavors such as cinnamon raisin, lemon blueberry, and cranberry orange.

Patrons and the back kitchen at Cushing Cafe.

The Cushing Cafe aligns with the vocational program at Cardinal Cushing Centers. As part of the school’s vocational curriculum, students work here on a rotating schedule, learning many skills. Geloran relates a story of one student who started out washing dishes and soon after was making breakfast sandwiches. Ricky DeSisto, who is the Development Manager at Cardinal Cushing Centers, explains that the Cafe “is a step toward gainful employment in the outside community.” An important aspect of Cardinal Cushing Centers is to help find paid employment within the community for their clients.

The Employees

The adults who work at the Cafe learn a host of skills, from customer service to food preparation to vocational skills such as interviewing and filling out job applications. They must apply for a paid position at the Cafe which can include a wide variety of roles including waitstaff, kitchen help, or dishwasher. Also on site is the greenhouse where flowers and organic vegetables are grown, which are sold to the public along with seasonal products such as pumpkins, wreaths, and Christmas trees. The vegetables grown here are used in the Cafe’s farm-to-table dishes. Organic tomatoes grown at the greenhouse are used in roasted tomato soup, a seasonal soup selection at the Cafe.

Food miles? At Cushing Cafe, they measure how far some of their food travels in feet, not miles.

Volunteers are integral to the success of the Cafe as well. Business Manager Jody Nash elaborates that the volunteers from the community “just want to get involved.” Currently, the volunteer group numbers around 30, from teenagers to those in their 70s. In addition to her role as Business Manager, Nash is also on the Board of Directors of Cardinal Cushing Centers and is a parent to daughter Sophie, a Cushing graduate who currently participates in the Adult Services program. Regarding the collaboration at the Cafe, Nash notes, “Students and adults work together here as part of a team, which just makes this place go.”

A Family of Cushing Centers Businesses

What’s your dining pleasure – indoors or out?

The Cushing Cafe is located inside the Cushing MarketPlace along with two other Cardinal Cushing Centers-owned businesses: the Take 2 Thrift Shop and the Unique Boutique. This has created a true shopping center. A customer may come to the boutique and then decide to pick something up for lunch at the Cafe. The businesses assist and support one another.

Sunny crafts created by residents are displayed on the cafe tables.

Prior to the reopening, Geloran remarked, “People say they have lived in Hanover all their lives and never knew we’re here.” MarketPlace’s location on Route 53 in an attractive modern building has helped create awareness, as has word of mouth from satisfied customers.

Clearly, the Cushing Cafe and the Cardinal Cushing Centers are very special places. The next time you are looking for a breakfast sandwich, a delicious scone, or a seasonal soup, try Cushing Cafe. Not only is the food superb, but it is a cornerstone of the South Shore community. (And you must try the chocolate chip cookies!)

Cushing Café
Cushing MarketPlace 120 Columbia Road
Hanover, MA 02339
(781) 924-2112

Zack Lamothe found that writing about Cushing Cafe not only temporarily satiated his forever hunger to try new food, but also satisfies his passion as an educator. He is a special education teacher at Marshfield High School.