An Adamsville institution, re-imagined

Pamela Huizenga plans to open updated Simmons Café in 2025

By Ruth Rasmussen
Posted 6/3/24

One year after purchasing the Simmons Café and Market in Adamsville, Pamela Huizenga is overseeing major renovations to its historic building, re-imagining the property’s landscaping, …

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An Adamsville institution, re-imagined

Pamela Huizenga plans to open updated Simmons Café in 2025


One year after purchasing the Simmons Café and Market in Adamsville, Pamela Huizenga is overseeing major renovations to its historic building, re-imagining the property’s landscaping, and continuously refining her vision of what the business will be when it reopens next year.

“Last year, I was sure we’d be open by this July,” she said. “That seemed like a rational goal at the time. Now, my hope is mid-to-late spring of next year.”

Huizenga is also taking time to address rumors about the business that are circulating and on social media, some of which she says are outlandish.

“One was that this was going to become an Italian restaurant, and we were getting rid of Simmons entirely. That has never even been a thought. We are going to expand the menu and switch things up, but it will definitely be a general store and café when it reopens.”

Referring to the property’s adjacent structures that she also owns, including two single family homes and a small building that houses a US post office branch, Huizenga said there are no plans to close the post office.

“I mean, who would want to be the person who kicks out the post office?” she said with a laugh. While the post office’s lease is up for renewal, her next steps are to negotiate the terms, she said.

“It’s not my plan to kick them out. That is definitely not what I want.”


A dream realized

Huizenga owns a home in Westport seven minutes away from Simmons, and she and her family were regular customers before the business went on the market.

“Their sandwiches were amazing. That’s what brought us here.”

She had been searching for a business opportunity when she learned that Simmons, an institution in these parts that dates back to the 1920s, was for sale for $985,000. She called the owner immediately to say she wanted to buy it.

Once the property changed hands, she opened the store on a temporary basis so she could meet some of her customers.

“I wanted to spend time in there, talking with people, to find out what they love about the business and what they missed from past versions. It’s a corner spot [on Crandall and Main Roads] and so convenient for the people who live around there. What did they really want? I’d say 99 percent of the feedback was really helpful, really positive, very sweet and welcoming. I got some great ideas — some that I will absolutely do, such as penny candy — and some that I probably won’t do, like cigarettes and lottery tickets.”

Huizenga grew up in Florida and owns a restaurant in Stuart specializing in fresh food and natural ingredients. She also operates a farm not far from the restaurant that features produce grown without chemical pesticides, using growing techniques that are environmentally responsible. Although the scale won’t be as large as her Florida operations, Huizenga will incorporate a similar business model in offering “real food grown clean” when Simmons reopens.

“We will be reaching out to local farmers and will partner with as many local people as we can for produce and eggs. I am also actively looking to get involved with some producers who raise their own beef and meat animals, so we will know how the animals are being treated and raised, what they are being fed, and how they are being slaughtered. We are going to be very deliberate as to who we partner with.”

In terms of hours, Huizenger said Simmons was always a place where people could stop for breakfast on their way to work, and she wants to maintain that tradition.

“I’m still playing around with the idea of scheduling. I’d like to have a few nights where we offer a dinner service, maybe family style, or some other kind of special fun options. It needs to be consistent enough so people know what’s going on, but special enough so they are excited about it.”


A complete transformation

The structure housing the store has been built in stages, with the earliest section, a chicken coop, most likely dating back to the late 1800s. Huizenger says a succession of families added on to the building through the years. She knew from the beginning that the interior would have to be gutted, and she is looking forward to completing its transformation.

She envisions charming, beautiful woodwork throughout, an updated kitchen, and a ceiling that will remain open and exposed — “so we will have all the height and beauty of this old structure.”

Addressing her projected opening date, Huizenger said it’s important that she and her team of professionals take their time.

“I was very amped to be ready for this summer, because everybody was pressuring me. I finally decided that I’m in it for the long haul and I want to do it right. The building has been around for over 100 years, and I want to do it justice so it will be around for another 100.”

2024 by East Bay Media Group

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