A freshly painted bright yellow building with red and green trim greets train travelers arriving in West Concord. The town bought the paint and the railroad provided the labor. Photo by Anne O’Connor

Maintaining historic West Concord depot takes a team effort 

By Anne O’Connor  Anne@theconcordbridge.org
November 24, 2023

When a visitor to West Concord gets off the train, the first building in sight is the bright yellow depot, with an overhang reaching almost to the tracks. Hosting a popular restaurant, the structure has served as a waiting room for over a century. 

Fresh paint went on the exterior of the MBTA-owned building this fall, thanks to a collaborative effort between the town and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. 

The 1894 structure is listed on the National Register of Historical Places and the team working on the project worked to keep everything historically appropriate.  

As part of a deal with the state landlord, the Club Car Café maintains the interior of the West Concord Depot and keeps the benches and round table. A model railroad, with B&M branding, circles the perimeter overhead. Photo by Anne O’Connor

Town Planner Elizabeth Hughes described how it all came together. She got in touch with Property Manager Pat Fitzgibbons from the property management firm, Greystone. The project had to be coordinated with railroad operations because it is so close to the tracks. 

They made a deal: If the town would supply the paint, the MBTA would do the labor. No date was set.  

About a month ago, Hughes reached back out. Good news: Another project was not moving forward. 

“If Concord can get the paint in the next three days, we have a crew we can get out there,” Fitzgibbons told her.  

A spokeswoman for the MBTA clarified that Keolis did the work. 

The team jumped into action. The paint on the building was custom mixed and the company that had made it was no longer in business. Senior Planner Ann Clifford, who has a special interest in historical preservation, got a good idea of the colors by looking at sections that were not sun-bleached or faded, with help from Ron Giacoppi, the owner of the Club Car Cafe.  

Clifford, working with Concord Lumber, came up three really awesome colors, Hughes said. Contractors for the railroad picked up the paint and “they got to work,” she said. 

In nudging the MBTA to act, Hughes reminded them Revolution 250 was coming up and lots of people would be coming into town.  

Historian Dorrie Kehoe, who was involved in getting the building repainted in the 2000s, said the building was definitely past its prime before the new paint went on. 

“The motivating force was when the big 250th comes up, it would really be a disgrace for this to be looking awful,” she said. 

“It looks really nice,” she said. “Let’s just enjoy it.” 

Long time owner of Club Car Cafe thrilled with the fresh paint 

Ron Giacoppi, the owner of Club Car Cafe, is full of praise for the project. 

For the past 34 years, he has run the restaurant in the depot, maintaining the interior and keeping the features the MBTA said must remain: the round table and the pew-like benches. 

He got a call one day this fall and painters from the railroad were there the next week.  

The crew did the work right, he said. They got the old paint off so the new should last a long time. 

Unlike the last time the building was painted, sometime around 2008, his business was not affected. With three exterior doors, he could always have two open for customers no matter where the workers were painting. 

“The support was insane,” he said, from both the town and his customers. 

Community is important for the restauranteur, who runs the business with his daughter Bianca Giacoppi. They know their customers by name. 

Thanks to their patrons ,they have Club Car Café art on the wall, a freshly painted sign, and had a visit from the Phantom Gourmet. 

The Giacoppis are just as proud of the sports and organization memorabilia on the walls given as thanks for their help, like the time they cooked 500 hamburgers for an event. 

West Concord businesses help each other out too, he said. When he ran out of bulkie rolls, another restaurant spotted him a supply. 

If another eatery needs something from the restaurant supply store, he is happy to stop on the way home to Foxboro. 

Like other businesses, they are looking for help. The café was slammed on Veterans Day and Ron and Bianca handled everything on their own. 

The regulars understood, he said.