the short goodbye and a new hello

how to love and how to say goodbye | the short goodbye | Chef Gretchen Hanson

The Short Goodbye

When I was a young chef I had a dog in my kitchen. A big, beautiful black lab named Elliot, who was our official greeter. The health department turned a blind eye, and the best part of my job was that my dog and my little boy were always with me every day when I worked. One stormy night, in the middle of dinner, lightning struck the farm, and Elliot bolted out the front door, was hit by a car and killed. I mourned for weeks. It was the worst pain I had ever felt, and I remember thinking how will I ever get through this? When will I not feel this way?


My little boy said to me, “It’s OK, mommy, you had him. You loved him. He loved you. I will love you more now to make up for him not being here.”

At the time it just made me cry that much harder. It wasn’t until years later that I understood the innate wisdom of his words.


When we lose something we forget that the thing we loved was there long enough for us to love it in the first place. How incredibly lucky it is to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. The mere act of loving so much makes our heart grow bigger than we ever thought possible.


My love for my Hobos family is limitless.


I have loved each and every one of you visiting me here at Hobos. It is with the deepest sadness and loss that I must tell each of you (for a while) and Hobos (forever) goodbye.

It has been a glorious, glorious journey and wonderful, wild ride and I am so grateful we shared it together. The cozy dinners, the too many bottles of wine, the crazy anniversary parties, the FABULOUS weddings, all the fundraisers for all the great causes… For all of you that came from all corners of the world to visit and celebrate with me; you are forever a part of my Hobos family.


It is such a difficult decision to say goodbye to something you truly love and yet I know that if I say goodbye now that I will be able to look backwards with love and gratitude and joy. If I don’t say goodbye very soon I am afraid that the very real love affair that I have had with this space will turn into a relationship where I begin to resent the demands on my time and how much of my life it consumes. I have fought well and fought hard and won every award there is to win in Delaware but soon the trials and tribulations of owning and running a restaurant will just be too much. Soon I will be too tired and stressed to feel the joy in what I do anymore. For the last eight years I have lived in a chef coat and smelled like a dirty kitchen wench. While I have loved every minute of it, I want to take some time to spend with the children that usually see me from behind the nightly line. They will not be little much longer. Holly leaves for college in two years and the last time I blinked, Hadyn was in pre-k at Kids Cottage. The last eight years of their childhood disappeared. I don’t want to lose the precious twenty two months I have left before Holly is off on her own adventures.


I know so many of you will be hurt and disappointed that you were not told or included in this decision. It was agonizing to make it and I have shed so very many tears in the process. I know that you will miss your Hobos home almost as much as I will. I will continue to teach and to hold wellness classes and they will be twice as important to me from here on out since I will have so much more time and energy to give. I will continue to serve the community I love with food for all our great not-for-profit causes. I hope you will stop by and visit. I hope you will take wellness classes. I hope you will volunteer for all the great events still to come that make our amazing little town a better place. There will be a new doorstep and a new chapter. I hope each of you will be a part of the stories I will have more time to write. You will each definitely be a part of the ones I tell.


The next story is going to start with recharging my batteries and taking some time at home with the children. Some very, very, quiet time to be introspective and centered. When I come back online I will start teaching and writing with so much more focus and energy than I have ever been able to afford. I really am excited about having the time and setting my intention to do all of the things that give me my fairy dust magic. No, in answer to the inevitable question, I don’t really have a plan of when or where or how that will be. Time has a way of taking care of itself and I know perfectly well that this decision will happen at the exactly right moment it is supposed to.


The moment that I am ready, and not a moment before.


I have been asked why I don’t want to sell it or give it a new life without me and I think we all know how that will end, don’t we? The food was good, certainly, but admit it, didn’t you mostly come for the hugs and the love? Weren’t you always secretly disappointed when I wasn’t there? It wouldn’t be fair to expect anyone else to do Hobos the way I did and with the energy it required. The new Head Mommy Hobo would always be compared to me and that wouldn’t be fair to either of us. Hobos was OUR home for the last eight years. Someone else will build a new space on 56 Baltimore and we will all try it and wish the new chef all the best in the world. But it won’t be Hobos. Nothing will ever be Hobos again and I’m good with that. I hope you will be too, eventually. It’s time for me to live in a kitchen that doesn’t require me to get an entrée on the table in twenty minutes; it’s time for me to be allowed to savor the feast. It is time for me to sit at the table with the friends and family I am so very lucky to have found here in this magical little town.


It is time for me to be a Hobo with a home.


It is time. It is absolutely the right moment and not one minute more.


In the immortal words of my generation, “every new beginning is some other beginnings end.”


This is my new beginning.




the reason i posted this today is that I heard “Closing Time” in Karen Sposato’s spin class this morning and it reminded me of this story, my wonderful new beginning; and where and who it has led me over the last several months.

Thank you each and every one for being a part of it.





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