The Buker family is well known among the diners of Fairhaven for the delicious and creative dishes they serve up at Margaret's and its sister restaurant, Elisabeth's. Chef Doug Buker and his wife Anne Tavares-Buker have made restaurants the family business – literally – by naming Elisabeth's after their daughter, and creating Brady's Ice Box, an ice cream shop, after their son.

Brady's Ice Box, located at 12 Middle Street between Margaret's and Elisabeth's, reopened Thursday after a seven-year hiatus. "It was a long struggle to get here, but we're finally open," Tavares-Buker said.

In 2014, Doug Buker was involved in a very serious car accident, resulting in life-altering brain damage. The ice cream shop was put on hold. "That was seven years ago," Tavares-Buker said. "Now that our kids and my nieces and nephews are of age, we decided it was time to reopen Brady's."

Tavares-Buker is an elementary school art teacher, teaching kindergarten through third grade, so she wasn't able to take on the responsibility of running Brady's on her own. The seven-year hiatus was able to end when Elisabeth and Brady came of age to take on the challenge.

"I'm not a restauranteur, because I don't know what I'm doing in a hot, busy kitchen," she said, adding she and her husband are so fortunate to have great kids eager to work the ice cream shop.

The genial staff includes Brady, Elisabeth, Lilly, Carley and two cousins. It's definitely a family affair.

"There aren't many other 16-year-olds who can say they have their own ice cream shop," beamed Brady. "I'm ecstatic! It's so cool. I'm going to work hard promoting the business."

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The shop is at the end of the Fairhaven bike path, and offers soft-serve ice cream, water and Snapple right now. 

"Next year, we'll expand the flavors, but for this late in the season, we're only serving vanilla, chocolate and a combo vanilla-chocolate twist, with chocolate or rainbow jimmies and magic shell cones," Tavares-Buker. "You can say this is a test run for us, so next season, we'll be ready to go."

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The comeback has been months in the making.

 

"We started this new journey back in May," Tavares-Buker said. "(We had) some early disappointments, including a swirl machine that required a very costly three-phase electrical setup that would have cost us $10,000 to rewire the building."

But the family wasn't deterred when it came to finally get Brady's open once again.

"We found another ice cream machine on Craigslist, from a former owner of a Pinkberry frozen yogurt franchise, and all I can say is God bless YouTube tutorials that showed us how to take apart, clean and properly operate the machine. It's been a learning experience, for sure," she chuckled.

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Right now, the hours are noon to 9 p.m., but that will change as the season winds down.

"We'll play it by ear until we feel that there are no more customers," Tavares-Buker said. "Once school starts, we'll scale back to 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., because the staff all attend high school. On weekends, we'll open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. Our plan is to go to Columbus Day, and then looking ahead, right after the 2022 spring break, we'll decide whether to open next April or May."

Is there a secret to serving a flawless Brady's Ice Box ice cream? The staff, almost in unison, sounded off, "Turn the cone counter-clockwise while it's dispensing and you'll get one that's picture-perfect." Good advice from a group that has been on the job for just one day.

As for their outlook and guiding principles, Tavares-Buker summed it up perfectly: "Go out of your way to make someone's day."

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