Judit Szamosszegi used a Hungarian expression to describe how she feels about closing her Newmarket Main Street restaurant, Goulash House, after 10 years.
"One of your eyes is crying, and the other is laughing,” she said. “It’s been very successful, and (I have) a lot of good feelings. But we’re tired now.”
The restaurant run by her and husband George is closing May 21. In its place, Main Street’s Cardinal Press Espresso Bar announced it would be moving into the space by July.
Szamosszegi said they decided to close due to some exhaustion. She said her husband has been putting in more hours every day, and with him needing surgery, they both decided it was time.
“We’re not getting any younger, and the body just says, ‘That’s enough.'"
The pair started the restaurant as a deli, with Szammosszegi crediting a town grant for helping them get started. Over time, she said they were able to grow and take on more of the space, building it into the restaurant it is today.
“We had no experience in food service," she said. “We had been talking about having a Hungarian restaurant, though many many years ago. But we never thought we were actually going to realize it.”
But she said they were able to build a great restaurant around authentic, well-prepared, European-style meals. She described how some customers would say they had not had a meal that good in a decade or more.
“We’re one of a kind, for sure,” she said. “Everything is made in the restaurant, made fresh by the order … It’s a lot of real cooking.”
She said the restaurant fared well during the pandemic, successfully transferring to a takeout style.
Despite that, they were prepared to move on, and she said a good offer came from The Cardinal Press. She said their business relationship has been good, and the door is open for her family to return to cook there in a smaller capacity in the future.
“We couldn’t have sold it to nicer people,” she said. “I’ll be one of the first customers for sure, and finally, I’m going to be sitting on the other side.”
Cardinal Press owner Omar Saer said his coffee shop has hit its capacity at its current location, just down the street from Goulash House. He said they need more room to grow their business, including a commercial kitchen, and Szammosszegi’s spot fits their style well with its brick and wood design.
“They have put so much love and care into everything,” he said. “You can feel the heart in the building, and that gives us a lot of confidence moving forward.”
He said they want to expand their offerings, including more food to fill the breakfast niche and a bar. He likened it to the business growing up from college to adulthood.
“We really want to do big things,” he said, adding that the reception he has received from customers about the move has been great. “Everyone’s really excited. To someone like myself, that gives me strength."
Szamosszegi said she knows many are disappointed by the closure. Many on Facebook expressed their love for the restaurant and how much they will miss it when she announced the closure there.
“Excellent, authentic, European meals and friendly service,” Diana Karin said. “It’s a shame, as we need more restaurants like Goulash House.”
But Szamosszegi said she and her husband have to look out for their health. She said they look forward to having a real summer off, and she will be around Main Street, having fun.
“I am very thankful for everybody who came in the door. It’s been a blast,” she said. “I’m sure most of them understand that doing something for 10 years takes a toll … Health is much more important than anything else.”