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Councilwoman Teresa R. Macaluso closing Brew Ha Ha on Friday


City Councilwoman Teresa M. Macaluso will fill up her last cup of joe at her Coffeen Street business on Friday.

Long before she became a councilwoman, Ms. Macaluso opened a drive-through coffee shop called Brew Ha Ha.

After more than 12 years, she will close the business on Friday, saying that she wants to devote more time to her family, the community and City Council business. She put the business on the market last year and still hopes to sell it.

“It’s just time for me to move on,” she said Monday.

Ms. Macaluso said she recently paid off her mortgage on the building and all her vendors, so the business is debt-free.

She and her sister, Karen E. Mikos, worked as baristas at Brew Ha Ha.

The business woman-turned councilwoman said she will miss her many regular customers, including Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham and Donald C. Alexander, the CEO of the Jefferson County Local Development Corp., making daily appearances.

Her sister said they became close to some customers, who told the women about what was going on in their lives. They watched their customers’ children grow up and get married.

“I had a ton of customers who kept it going for years and would have kept it going for another 100 years,” she said.

With temperatures hitting well below zero on many days and so much snow this winter, it was more difficult to get up at 3:30 a.m., make sure the Coffeen Street property was plowed and open at 5:30 every morning, Since she opened in 2001, Ms. Macaluso has not been able to go on vacation, she said.

Even on the day of her father Carmen J. Macaluso’s funeral in 2010, Ms. Macaluso recalled that she and her sister had to be there.

“It just got to be too much,” she said.

Regular customer Rachel A. Ulrick said she’s “pretty sad” after seeing a sign that was taped on the drive-up window a few days ago.

“It’s the best coffee in town,” she said.

Buying a white mocha ice, even on the coldest days of the winter, was a part of her daily routine, said Adria S. Amaral.

“They call me the crazy girl for getting it in the winter,” she said.

Ms. Macaluso, a former registered nurse, plans to return to that profession part-time.

When she ran for re-election to a second term, Ms. Macaluso stayed comfortably in the confines of Brew Ha Ha to campaign, often speaking to voters who drove up to the coffee shop’s drive-up window to gain support for her.

During her stint on the council, customers also knew where to find her when they wanted to talk to her about city issues. But now that she’s closing the business, she‘ll be able to spend more time on city business.

On Monday, Megan J. Kimple placed her order at the drive-up window and pulled away, initially forgetting to wait for her coffee and then turned around to get it.

“Literally, we’ve had to chase people down the street when that happens,” Ms. Macaluso said.

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