Middleboro’s Beloved Central Cafe Passes the Pizza Cutter to the Next Generation
Panic set in across Middleboro and the surrounding towns on the morning of New Year’s Eve, as a Facebook post from the beloved Central Cafe downtown indicated that things were about to change in a big way.
“Goodbye Central…we love you,” the post read. “Thanks to Middleboro and the surrounding communities for all the support over the years. Best of luck to the new owners. The tradition will continue.”
Well, as it turns out, the tradition really will continue, as the new owners are just the next generation of one of the former owners.
Bill Fuller and Mark Hannon are stepping aside, and Fuller’s daughters Morgan and Sadie, his son Will, and Will’s best friend Zach Bourget are taking over, leaving the Central in capable and familiar hands.
“Literally nothing is changing,” Morgan said. “People have nothing to worry about.”
In actuality, the new owners have been leading the charge at the Central for the past three years, and you likely never even noticed.
“We started right before COVID,” Will Fuller said. “It’s been a three-year process of learning everything inside and out, but it’s also been a long time coming. We wanted to make sure we keep the Central the Central, essentially.”
None of the new owners are strangers to the Central, either.
“It’s been my family business since before I was born,” Morgan said. “As kids, we grew up at the Central, pretending to write slips and make the food. We always knew one day we’d become owners of it.”
“Me and my best friend Zach would come after football games growing up, we’d come and eat pizza on Sundays,” Will said. “We were dishwashers, then we made pizzas all through high school and college, and now that we’ve graduated college, we’re ready to take over.”
It Was Time for a Change at Middleboro's Central Cafe
Bill Fuller and Mark Hannon purchased the Central Cafe in 1994, continuing the tradition of Middleboro’s oldest cafe, which originally opened in 1923. However, one of the partners decided it was time to step aside.
“Mark planned on retiring, and our dad said, ‘If we came in as partners, we’re going out as partners,’” Will said.
Bill Fuller owns two other businesses in town, so although he’s retiring from the Central, he’ll still keep busy with those.
“He’ll be more behind the scenes, but we can bounce business questions off of him, and he’ll help us and guide us,” Will said.
However, Hannon is full-out retiring.
“Mark – we always call him ‘Coach’ because he was my dad’s semi-pro football coach, so he’s ‘Coach Hannon’ to a majority of people at the Central – is going to enjoy time with his family,” Will said. “He’s been showing us exactly what we need to do, and both have said they’re always just a phone call away. I’m very thankful to them for showing us the ropes and keeping this great tradition going in this community.”
The New Blood Takes Over Middleboro’s Central Cafe
The plan is for Sadie and Morgan to run the front of the house, and Will and Zach to run the kitchen. The two sisters also started working at the Central from a young age.
“I’m actually a nurse at Mass General, but before I was a nurse, I was working at the Central from the day I turned 16 until the day I started my nursing job six years ago, bussing tables and picking up shifts,” Morgan said. “Sadie started as a bus girl when she was 14 or 15 and is now a waitress and a bartender, and has been leading the way out front.”
Keeping the Central Cafe Traditions Alive
Central Cafe will also keep its famous specials, such as half-priced pizzas (dine-in only) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as well as the four cheese pizzas for $25 take-out special.
“We’ve always had that since the day I was born,” Morgan said.
The siblings also said there’s another Central stalwart that isn’t going anywhere: their grandmother, Carol Fuller – known to Central regulars as “Mama Fuller” – is going to remain on staff.
“And people know it’s Carol’s way or the highway,” Will said with a laugh.
So as the Central Cafe is celebrating 100 years in 2023, it seems to be the perfect time for a change in ownership – even if nothing else about the Central is changing.
“It’s the same exact pizza recipe, the same exact people cooking the pizza, serving the pizza, serving the beer. It’s business as usual, and nothing is changing except the people that own it,” Morgan said.
She said they even have the original card that the pizza recipe was written on – that’s how much tradition matters at the Central.
“We have 100 years in business to back our product, and clearly the people in Middleboro and the surrounding towns really care about the Central,” she said.