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Pub owners buy Hoff Liquors

August 12, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - During years of commuting to his job at Eastalco in Frederick County, Md., Chuck Mills dreamed of owning his own business.

Cathy Mills, his wife, had a dream of her own, one of opening up a little restaurant, maybe in Clear Spring - the town in which she grew up.

It seems the Millses are getting steadily closer to realizing their dream, albeit a bit at a time.

The latest step came in June when the couple bought Hoff Liquors, which is next door to their current enterprise, C&C Pub at 122 Cumberland St.

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"We want eventually to have one business," said Chuck Mills as he waited on a customer in the old Hoff Liquors at 124-126 Cumberland St. "Sometimes we run out of space in the pub."

C&C Pub - named for the initials of their first names - came up for sale in 2000 and the couple decided to take the first plunge into entrepreneurship.

"Back then, I was still working at Eastalco and my wife was on the road in the food retail business," Chuck Mills said.

The pub is just wide enough for a bar and one row of tables that each seat four people extending from the front door to the back of the establishment. Most days, that is plenty of room.

"We try to have a party a month and we never have enough room for that," Chuck Mills said. Sometimes the parties are crab feeds; when there are other specials on the menu, the place is packed.

When Chuck and Cathy Mills still were juggling full-time jobs, taking care of the pub was enough, even with a manager who does a great job, said Chuck Mills, 53.

"I retired last September from Eastalco after 32 years there," he said.

At age 47, Cathy Mills gave up her traveling lifestyle and now has a position at the scale house at the 40 West Landfill.

The opportunity to buy Hoff Liquors came on a sad note. Last October, William Albowicz died unexpectedly, leaving his wife, Julie, with the business they had run as a team for 38 years.

The business was closed for a while and then reopened while Julie Albowicz decided what the future would hold for her and the business. The decision to sell was finalized this spring and the Millses made their offer.

Julie Albowicz, who is Clear Spring's vice mayor, continues to live in the family home over the store.

The Hoff location has been renovated, opening up some space in the center of the store. "We still have lottery tickets for sale and we are now able to accept credit cards," Chuck Mills said.

Mills Liquors is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.

C&C Pub is open Mondays through Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursdays through Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The two businesses still are separated by a wall, but that may change, Chuck Mills said.

There are four employees at both locations, not including the Millses when they are working.

"My wife and I both enjoy the townspeople in Clear Spring," Chuck Mills said.

"I used to work at the Shady Bower Sunoco and Market when I was young and my wife delivered newspapers," he said.

The Millses live in Clear Spring. Their son, Brent, 21, is a student at West Virginia University, where he is studying electrical/computer engineering.

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