Aram Postaljian, owner of Aram’s Cafe, holding a photo of the breakfast items he grilled seven days a week before being forced to close his business due to an oil spill in his basement on January 19, 2022 (Wicked Local photo: Joanna Tzouvelis)

Accidental Oil Spill Closes Aram’s Cafe Indefinitely

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BELMONT, Mass. (Belmont Citizen-Herald) — “Where Everybody Knows Your Name,” the theme song from the long-running television show, “Cheers,” comes to mind for just about anyone who has visited Aram’s Café during its 35 years in business. But that is in jeopardy now, after the cafe has closed indefinitely due to an accidental oil spill caused by a delivery driver.

Fuel Delivery Mishap

On January 19, Aram Postaljian was working the grill as he has been every morning since 1987, when he heard a flushing sound. At first, he said, he thought it was his dishwasher, but the noise led him to check the basement.

He saw an unfamiliar reddish liquid flushing underneath the stairs. A customer who works at the gas station across the street, identified it as heating oil. Before he knew it, about 75 gallons of bioheat super plus (a combination of bio diesel and heating oil) had flooded into his basement.

The fuel tank was removed years ago when the building was converted from oil heat, but the pipe from the outside to the basement had been left in place.

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“Somehow, whoever disconnected the tank, forgot to cap the pipe from outside,” said Postaljian.

Cubby Oil Admits Mistake

The fuel was supposed to be delivered to the building at 81 Trapelo Road, not 85. According to Charlie Uglietto, owner of Cubby Oil, his delivery person, who has been with the company seasonally for about 15 years, made a mistake.

When the driver entered the address into his GPS system, it took him to the wrong building, Uglietto said.

If the truck had been on the wrong street, it would not have allowed the driver to pump until the driver confirmed the correct location, said Uglietto. In this case, a warning did not come up because the GPS led the truck to that location.

“The second thing we ask our drivers to do, if they are not familiar with the property, is to confirm by the front door, what number you are at. In this case, he would have seen the number 85,” said Uglietto.

Uglietto could not recall any other time his company made a mistake of this magnitude.

“I fault him for not checking on the front door since it was a new property to make sure he was at the right address,” he said.

Uglietto said he immediately contacted ACV Enviro Corporation to contain the spill and begin the remediation which will be overseen by the  Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

“I want to apologize to Aram for the mistakes we made. I certainly take full responsibility for everyone that works for me here,” said Uglietto. “No one did anything intentionally.”

Uglietto said whatever the cost, Cubby Oil will make things right for Aram’s Café and the state will make sure the company is handling the spill correctly.

Not How He Wanted to Go Out

Every day since the spill Postaljian has been going into the restaurant to let clean-up and insurance workers in. He goes home with a headache and cough.

“The smell of oil is everywhere,” he said.

About $60,000 worth of merchandise stored in the basement was ruined, not including the walk-in refrigerator.

A few of the hundreds of business supplies of Aram’s Cafe in Belmont which were contaminated due to an oil spill in the basement on January 19, 2022 (Wicked Local photo: Joanna Tzouvelis)

“My business is completely gone,” said Postaljian. “I don’t know if I will ever be able to re-open. I didn’t expect to go out like this.”

Last fall, Postajian, 72, put  Aram’s Café on the market for $200,000.  He was hoping to sell his business and retire.

Najat Meho, who has worked with him as a waitress for 16 years, is now out of work.

“This is the worst thing that has happened in 35 years,” said Postajian. “We survived COVID for two years.”

Longtime Customer Misses His Everyday Meeting Place

Retired Belmont Police Operations Dan MacAuley misses meeting with the same two friends he has met at Aram’s Cafe every day at 6:15 a.m. for 30 years, sitting side by side on the same stools lined up at the counter.

“We had a lot of fun going there and trying to solve all the problems of the world,” he said.

He even brought his children there in their infant seats.

“They grew up with Aram’s,” said MacAuley.

He and his friends now meet at Dunkin Donuts, but he said it’s not the same. He considers Postaljian a friend who was living his life’s dream.

“He came to America in the early 80s from Armenia and has done well for himself. To see it go down this way, really stinks,” said MacAuley.

He hopes January 19 won’t be Postaljian’s last day of work.

“I hope he can get it up and running again and sell it when he’s ready,” he said.

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