Regulars at Beach Rose Café can still get their morning coffee and sandwiches at the Wickford storefront, but there is one thing they won’t be able to get each morning – that signature, day-brightening smile from beloved employee Madeline “Maddie” Healey.
"Customers say they'd count on Maddie's smile to fix a bad mood," said owner Tim Sharp.
Healey passed away Feb. 19 along with her friend Michael Ruggieri following an early morning accident on Shippeetown Road. When Sharp heard the news Sunday morning, his initial instinct was to close the café for the day. The typically small staff, even smaller during the winter, is close knit and news that a member of the close-knit work family had passed away would surely be a blow. But, the café stayed open as staff and customers consoled each other.
“It’s important to push forward,” said Sharp. “Everyone who was working here that day did a remarkable job. We were just in complete shock but we almost needed that routine to help us.”
It wasn’t just the people behind the counter who were distraught over the passing of 18-year-old Healey, who graduated from North Kingstown High School last June. According to staff member Jay McCoy, the café has been receiving calls day in and day out asking about Healey’s funeral services. The owner of Green Ink even came over the day they learned Healey had died and was seen hugging Beach Rose employees.
“There are a few customers I can think of who had a special place for her in their hearts and she had the same for them,” said Erin Allard, another staff member at Beach Rose. One customer in particular was Amy Feucht. (Read Amy's blog entry here about Beach Rose and its employees, including Maddie Healey.)
Joining the crew early last summer just after graduating North Kingstown High School, Healey was still one of the café’s “newbies” as the second-most recent hire. But, Healey was hardly considered an outsider to the group.
“We hire people based on chemistry and we instantly knew she’d work,” said Sharp.
According to Sharp, Healey caught on quickly: when Sharp saw her work for the first time in only her second day on the job, he knew the often-smiling teenager from North Kingstown would be a perfect fit.
“She was making sandwiches like she’d been here for six months,” said Sharp.
Healey ended up becoming one of Beach Rose’s workhorses, pulling six shifts a week and often being the first person to volunteer to cover a coworker’s shift.
“It’s going to take two people to replace her,” said McCoy.
According to coworkers, Maddie wasn’t just dedicated to her job but also her family – especially her younger siblings. On shifts when she closed the café, Maddie would sometimes bring along her younger sister to help and hang out.
“I’m the youngest of eight and I really looked up to her because she would hang out with her younger sister like that,” said McCoy.
Beach Rose Café will be closed on Saturday so staff can attend Healey’s funeral services at St. Bernard’s Church to say goodbye to the much-loved employee.
“I think one customer said it perfectly: she was effortlessly nice,” said Sharp. “And it’s true. She was so completely genuine."