New England dining >>> Page 2 New England Restaurant Memories >>> Page 1 New England Restaurant Memories
by Eric H., lifelong New England diner
Chef Wilhelm's Hofbrahaus was a German restaurant located in Ogunquit, ME. We ate there a few times in the 1970s. It was always great eating German food in a coastal town when everyone else was eating lobster and chowder.
While peers of mine in the 1970s were mourning the deaths of rock icons Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, I focused my respects on the passing of restaurants like Angelo's in Arlington, MA, and Jack and Marions deli in Brookline, MA. A great pizza and corn beef sandwich rang more true than an amplified guitar riff, I thought.
Restaurants leave us all the time. You thought that special place would last forever because no one would ever close a place so near and dear to your heart. Then you see that "For Sale" sign one day and your childhood temporarily goes right down the drain. You think, "How could they close this place when I liked it so much? Why didn't they contact me first before closing?"
You get cynical. A new restaurant opens and you promise not to get too attached because of past heartbreaks. Then, you break down and fall for a new place. Then, one day, they close and it's time to search for a new love.
The key is to enjoy restaurants when they're around and not get too down when they close. Restaurants like Angelo's and Jack and Marion's struck such a strong emotional chord to this writer because of joyful family experiences and the excitment of trying food that we had never eaten before (or old favorites that were done especially well). Perhaps if Angelo's and Jack and Marion's were around today, they would just be "another restaurant," but back then they were worshiped.
The following is a list of New England restaurants, gone but not forgotten in many of our native New England hearts and minds:
Fontaine's, West Roxbury, MA Fontaine's was one of the only dining spots where I was perfectly content to stay outside the restaurant. Nothing against the very good, family-style chicken dishes inside, but the main attraction was the exterior neon, waving chicken sign. For more than 50 years, this kitschy, nostalgic sign with the animated, spastic chicken brought happiness to passing drivers. Maybe since so many people today are driving and talking on their cell phones, looking at themselves in the mirror, or just trying to fit into the Boston lifestyle by driving recklessly and feeling self-entitled, perhaps the happy neon waving chicken sign became sad and lonely. It seemed pretty lonely inside, too, inside Fontaine's the last few years, as the quality slipped and families chose fast-food chicken places that reflected their always-on-the-go lifestyles. Fontaine's makes some of us long, however, for the innocent age coupled with a more relaxed, leisurely dining pace tailor-made for families that ate together and loved neon waving chicken signs.
Dave Wong's China Sails, Chestnut Hill , MA, and various eastern Massachusetts locations A great advertising campaign goes a long way. China Sail's advertised on television and radio frequently, to the point where it eventually became a household name. While the food was good, it wasn't better than many other places struggling to stay in business. China Sails usually seemed to attract a senior set convinced that the agreeable, mouthwatering advertisements were true. China Sails also attracted, it always seemed, inexplicably, very attractive women paired with goofy looking, socially inept men. Dave Wong seemed like a really nice guy, and that is probably why -- along with the familiar Chinese comfort dishes -- so many people went to China Sails. It was a true dining legend for many, many years.
Chef Wilhelm's Hofbrahaus, Ogunquit, MA Opening a German restaurant in a coastal town known for its seaside lobster dinners seemed a bit odd, but for those preferring wiener schnitzel to lobster, Chef Wilhelm's made a ton of sense. Outside, the big barrel with the smiling German man and woman wooden cutouts standing on top (they looked more Dutch than German) was a classic memory. Inside, Chef Wilhelm's looked more like a steak house chain with its red tablecloths, cheesy wagon wheel chandelier and drab drop ceiling.
Finnerty's Country Squire, Cochituate, MA Finnerty's Country Squire recently closed, leaving behind wonderful dining memories of a large, traditional New England restaurant that pleased many for generations. Finnerty's was the type of place where one could feel good to dress in their Sunday best for a family meal or larger function and never walk away disappointed at the straightforward chicken, steak and seafood selections. Now that Finnerty's is closed, it brings up the retrospective question, "Why didn't we go there more?" The food was consistently solid, management ran a tight ship, and the slightly out-of-date country decor, too-long hallway, the spacious dining rooms, wall-to-wall carpeting and relaxed New England country feel brought one back to simpler times. The current "business closed" sign in front of the door reads like an indication of "It's a Wonderful Life," where cold Pottersville has taken over charming Bailey Falls. Although we didn't dine there much, Finnerty's will always have a place in our hearts as an integral part of New England dining. We hope that if a restaurant takes over, it will be in the tradition of Finnerty's and not some overpriced, self-conscious gourmet restaurant. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but old-time tradition seems to slipping away from the New England dining scene, and that's sad.
The Old Oaken Bucket, Westford, MA The Old Oaken Bucket is a prime example of how a cool name and atmosphere can make one overlook the offerings of dried out meat and surly service. During a childhood stage where we aimed to be rural hicks despite living in urban Arlington, Mass. (perhaps by watching too much Andy Griffith, Green Acres and Gomer Pyle) , the Old Oaken Bucket delivered the goods in its rural Westford location in a frayed, rough-around-the-edges dining room that seemed on the verge of needing a huge facelift (the rundown feel, however, had a great charm). All was forgiven, however, as we could picture Gomer Pyle eating some home cooked food here (this quickly-passing rural stage perhaps reflected the lack of girls we met during this time). One day, many years later, after telling a friend about the Old Oaken Bucket , we enthusiastically drove out there and, sadly, found it closed. Many years later, however, the Old Oaken Bucket reopened and was, to our surprise, of much better quality, thanks to building upgrades and an innovative chef who implemented a nice combination of down-home, and upscale flourishes to meats that weren't dried out. The "new" Old Oaken Bucket didn't last more than a few years, however, as The 99, a very good local chain, bought them out. The good and bad versions of the Old Oaken Bucket will always remain with us, however, especially the bad version.
Longhorn Barbecue, North Woodstock, NH Childhood favored the Longhorn Barbecue over touring the stunning, beautiful nearby Mt. Washington and viewing some of the most spectacular scenery in New England, courtesy of White Mountain National Forest. The barbecue chicken and blueberry pie were amazing and the knotty pine, cowboy-like atmosphere was the closest we ever came to experiencing the "west," since we never went beyond Rochester, N.Y. The elongated gift shop was great, too, with cowboy belts, that had the novel distinction of having the beads fall off once out in the parking lot. The Longhorn faded one day at sundown as the barbecue chicken was drier than Pat Paulsen, they were all out of blueberry pie, and a waitress had her head down on a dining room table crying. Suddenly, the spectacular New Hampshire scenery seemed like a pretty good option. The Longhorn has resurfaced, however, as a good breakfast place, according to some sources who favor breakfast over the spectacular New Hampshire scenery.
Angelo's, Arlington, MA With dim lighting and a circular dining room that appealingly ended up where you started, Angelo's made the cheesiest, chewiest, tastiest pizzas and Italian-American food that was on par with the best Italian Boston North End restaurants. The staff, which seemed to work there 24 straight hours, seven days a week, was always pleasant by striking up conversation, remembering names of customers and always saying "Thank-you." This is quite a contrast to modern day Arlington, where the pace is much faster and thoughtfulness sometimes takes a back seat to adults who love their toys -- SUVs, cell phones and laptops. Angelo's, on the other hand, seemed well integrated into the thoughtfulness of earlier-day Arlington, the classic local business that emphsized "local" while bringing a viable business to hungry Arlingtonians on a low budget and a big appetite.
Jack and Marion's, Brookline, MA Why a household name-caliber restaurant closed, we'll never know, but Jack and Marion's served as the local leader of what some say was New York City quality deli food, with service and urban panache to match. While some other delis had surly service and didn't always give it their best effort, Jack and Marion's seemed like a model of hard-working consistency -- even to a then eight-year-old like me. One could fill up on great soups, a main meal and huge dessert in a bustling atmosphere. Jack and Marion's proved that running a restaurant as efficiently as a machine didn't mean dining in a charmless, sterile environment; it just meant you could enjoy the great food and be taken care of in a really nice, pleasant dining room with deli aromas that seemed to extend a mile to our parking space in urban Brookline.
The Tides, Nahant, MA The Tides, blessed with an ideal coastal causeway location in North Shore Nahant, matched wonderful seafood cuisine with great scenery in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere. Particularly satisfying were the seafood pizzas, which offered fresh out-of-the-oven Italian-style pizza with seafood toppings seemingly caught minutes ago. Unfortunately, the Tides changed ownership hands and went out to sea in terms of quality, making this legendary restaurant, sadly, just a New England dining memory.
Bishop's, Lawrence, MA During its heyday, Bishop's served the best Middle Eastern food and french fries in New England. That's right, Middle Eastern food and french fries. The lamb kabobs, hummus, babba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves and, yes, perfectly cooked, shoestring french fries had no rival. The atmosphere was memorable too, with, as someone described, a dining room that resembled an aircraft carrier. Bishop's always had amazing service, with many "career" waiters -- the professionalism showed. We never thought Bishop's would close, but it did, and we had to find another restaurant to call a tradition for a revered annual family birthday celebration.
Gianelli's, Burlington, MA Easily a place where Richie Cunningham from Happy Days could have been spotted, the family-owned, family-oriented Gianelli's offered homemade Italian food in a remarkably informal, unaffected setting on a part of Route 3A in Burlington that mall shoppers probably never knew existed. Gianelli's didn't win any prizes for being pretentious and stuffy, which accounts for why they were in business for generations. The fact Gianelli's closed took away a part of many people happy childhood memories, as well as some adults who loved this timeless restaurant where food, family and service mattered most.
Green Ridge Turkey Farm, Nashua, NH We never found the Green Ridge nor the Turkey Farm on the incredibly congested Daniel Webster Highway, but the Green Ridge Turkey Farm always delivered the freshest turkey along with all the requisite sides -- stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. The quality slipped in the early 1990s and suddenly the charming old house-like structure morphed into a Barnes and Noble. We like to read books and Barnes and Noble satisfies that craving very much, but at that location we wish that great turkey could have remained forever.
Willow Pond Kitchen, Concord, MA Somehow, a redneck bar with stuffed moose on the wall and catfish and frog legs on the menu seemed out of place in Concord, one of the most affluent towns in Massachusetts. The cow stench across the street always had an endearing quality, sometimes serving as the warmest greeting at this dining spot. Short on manners and low on prices, the Willow Pond Kitchen wasn't all that great -- especially the turgid pizza -- but it was a place to return because it was so different from the rest of the vanilla restaurant pack. Admittedly, they had great lobster deals and an endless supply of oysters. When I heard about the Willow Pond closing, I had to go back one more time. I left disappointed in the food and the impending closure. Sometimes, we like things that aren't that great; Willow Pond Kitchen expertly tapped into this pathetic human condition.
Nick's Beef and Beer House, Cambridge, MA The double cheeseburger plate for under 2.95, cheap beer, wisecracking waitresses and that unforgettable phony fireplace with the multi-colored logs pleased everyone from Harvard students to construction workers. No one ever admitted to truly liking Nick's Beef and Beer House, but that was disproved by the endless crowds eating foods bad for the cardiovascular system in this dark, cavernous eatery. Why Nick's had to go, we'll never know. It was like taking away from a baby his favorite toy.
Shakey's Pizza, Nashua, NH Hmmm, let's open up a restaurant that plays Laurel and Hardy movies, has a player piano and serves great pizza and root beer-- and nothing else worthwhile. Oh, and let's call this place Shakey's! This brilliant and visionary marketing strategy pleased parents and kids, alike. Shakey's is long gone, which is a tragedy. The combination of going to beautiful Silver Lake State Park in nearby Hollis and then having a grand time at Shakey's is the stuff that created great childhood memories.
The Wursthaus, Cambridge, MA The great thing about the Wursthaus was that everyone could wear a plaid jacket, horn-rimmed glasses, smoke a pipe and not get beat up. This long-time Harvard Square hangout proved popular with professors,students and phony intellectuals, as well as high school graduates who wanted to feel smart while drinking beer. The Wursthaus featured an enormous variety of beer and OK German food in a rather charming upstairs dining room. Here was a restaurant with personality, personalities and a presence that makes you wonder why so many restaurants in the once unique Harvard Square had to go generic.
Red Coach Grill, Hyannis, MA This place was like Howard Johnson's with some fancy rugs and more comfortable seats. Come to think of it, Howard Johnson's did own the Red Coach Grill, which operated in many New England locations and inexplicably, a place somewhere north of Lake George, N.Y. Our only Red Coach Grill experience was at the Hyannis rotary. As kids, we were somewhat nervous about going in the restaurant -- what if one of those crazy drivers missed the rotary and drove right into the restaurant? The steaks were OK, the chicken a bit dry and most of peas and mashed potatoes we didn't like ended up stuck under the table. On top of that, the Red Coach Grill didn't have Howard Johnson's 28 ice cream flavors. We'll always remember, however, those great black booths and the cool red rugs, although that didn't do one thing for our hunger.
Chadwick's, Waltham, MA Chadwick's was a wildly popular ice cream parlor that also served pretty good sandwiches. Chadwick's most memorable moments occurred on customers' birthdays when ear-splitting drums and singing shook the small dining room, and most likely, the entire Metrowest Boston region. A perennial kid's favorite, Chadwick's left a lot of great memories including some of the biggest sundaes encountered in the Western world and fun, fun, fun anytime during business hours.
The Acropolis, Cambridge, MA The repetitive playing of "Never on Sunday" on eight-track tape, that really nice, stoic bald Greek host with the twinkle in his eye, and some fabulous baked lamb with too-good-to-be true rice pilaf were just a few highlights that made the Acropolis a beloved Cambridge dining establishment. The Acropolis staff always made the diner feel at home at this small, dark, informal place that catered to families, Harvard University professors, romantic couples and poor college students (usually the romantic couples). That incredible Greek lamb -- so tender and abundant -- has never been duplicated, to our knowledge, even at some great local Greek restaurants. We'll never know why the Acropolis closed (actually we're journalists and could find out, but we won't because it feels better to not know and eternally be depressed and outraged about its unexpected closing).
Yoken's, Portsmouth, NH I was so excited I could barely contain myself. We were headed to Yoken's, a legendary Portsmouth, N.H., seafood restaurant famous for everything fried under the sun, a gift shop with nothing good, and the huge, amazing smiling whale sign.
It had been nearly 30 years since my last visit. Now, I could pass on my Yoken's-fueled childhood joy to our children. Instantly bringing back memories, I could see the esteemed Yoken's sign ahead. Eagerly awaiting the return of something so dear to my heart, we signaled left, drove into the parking lot, and found that Yoken's was gone. It was just a parking lot and a sign with the huge, amazing smiling whale. I was crushed. It was sort of like Homer Simpson driving his car into beyond-rural Spittle County, and seeing several appetizing billboard ads for Flaming Pete's barbecue restaurant -- only to heartbreakingly find out when arriving at the newly-beloved destination that Flaming Pete's had burned to the ground.
Nate's Deli, Arlington, MA I always loved Nate's Deli because every luncheon meat they served seemed to taste better than its competitors. Nate's also offered larger potions of deli meats than others. It was also a five minute's walk from home, located in what is now Camera's Inc. The atmosphere: a plain-looking, pure, classic small town community storefront with a staff that was most welcoming and prided itself on getting to know the customer. But what I liked most about Nate's was that the owner reminded me a lot of Inspector Fenwick from the Dudley Do-Right cartoon series.
From Richard F.
From Gary N.:
From Bruce B.:
Moose, Lincoln, NH It was located right
Lincoln, near the end of the Kancamagus Highway. This
restaurant had delicious food. The sauces were quite thick and zesty,
and the pasta was definitely homemade. The garlic bread was some of the
best I've had anywhere. The building itself was like someone's
Bailey's Ice Cream, Boston and Cambridge, Mass.
Schrafft's Tea Room, Boston, MA
With fond memories of my Boston University days in the late 1960s, I recall Bailey's Ice Cream Parlor where peppermint ice cream was served in old-fashioned silver dishes, set on silver plates, dripping with hot fudge that spilled over plenteously onto the silver plates. While there was a Bailey's in Harvard Square, my favorite was the Bailey's located on the street that led down from the Park Street Station to the now defunct Jordan Marsh and Filene's Department Stores. Those were the good old days. Innocent and sweet yet not forgotten.
In those days, I worked as a dining room waiter at one Boston's few remaining Schrafft's Tea Room Restaurants. There was one on Boylston Street and one on Milk Street. I worked at the Schrafft's in the Prudential Center on the Huntington Avenue Side of the old Pru Center. I was back there last Christmas time. It's a different world.
Albert H. Black, New Haven, Conn.
Original Cafe, Cambridge, MA
Cronin's, Cambridge, MA
F&T Diner, Cambridge, MA
"The Original Cafe," Main Street,
Cambridge...it was a comfortable place near MIT where one could get a
decent meal and a beer on a student's budget.
Alphonse's Powder Mill Restaurant, Maynard, MA
Alphonse's Powder Mill Restaurant in Maynard Mass., was in operation by the Alphonse family from 1965-1985. It was the place for dining and dancing during the 60's and 70's and the place for many weddings. Digital Equipment Co., one of the first computer pioneers based in Maynard, put the town on the map before being bought out by Compac . Before the powder mill was Uncle Pete's Twin Tree's. The location is now the Maynard Elk's club.
note on Alphonse's Powder
Mill: Mr. Alphonse:
Bailey's, Wolfeboro, NH One must recall Bailey's in Wolfeboro, N.H. They served 29 fresh flavors of hand cranked ice cream and frappes. They had the original pine paneled restaurant off of 109 in Wolfeboro, and an old converted Boston&Maine railroad depot on Wolfeboro Bay, Lake Winnipesaukee. Their lobster rolls gave you a pound of lobster for $6.99, and the cheeseburgers were 1/2 pound of choice sirloin for $2.99. They started in June of 1936 and closed in June of 2004. All the waitresses were from the finest Colleges, Dartmouth, Brown, Smith, Wellsley, Radcliffe, and TCU, Texas Christian University as well as others, and they looked like models out of a LL Bean catalog, tan, tall and lovely. The views of the lake were million dollar views, which is what a 2 bedroom cottage on that lake costs today. One the greatest New England treasures of all time vanishes into eternity.
Joe D.'s, Burlington and Woburn, MA We miss a little pizza shop that was located in Burlington, Mass. It was called Joe Ds Pizza....this restauranat had the best italian pizza in the area, along with great breakfast and dinners. Its specialty was a great pepper steak sub and also had great clam chowder. This restaurant was first located in Woburn, Mass., and relocated to Burlington in 1977.
White Turkey Inn, New York City
White Turkey Inn was a wonderful New England restaurant in the heart of
New York City that I still remember from my boyhood days in the late
1940's and early 1950's. It was my first experience with an
assortment of relishes and a dollop of cottage cheese, and interesting
breads and rolls, instead of the usual white bread and butter fare most
restuarants offered as starters when you first sat down. I
remember there being an impeccably clean atmosphere, and excellent
service, with what I now know to be an unimaginative menu but which, at
the time, felt as though I was dining among kings. Was it the
restuarant itself, or a nostalgic longing for youth, that brings a
smile to my face when I recall my family's visits to this restaurant,
which I believe was part of a chain, that I thought would be there
Thank you for providing the opportunity to reminisce,
The Hartwell Barn, Concord, MA Say there, you MUST include a historic restaurant, which, tragically burned to the ground in 1968 on route 2A, between Lexington and Concord....built in the 1600s, Hartwell Farm. Here was a restaurant, where one could walk into the kitchen, and purchase massive pecan rolls to take home. Service was friendly and prompt. The atmosphere was magnificient; the menu extensive; the view from the very large main dining room looked toward the east over acres of field. The attached barn had its own intimate, rustic atmosphere. Hartwell Farm was a gem!!!
Korb's Bakery, somewhere in Rhode Island Hello, I miss Korbs Bakery, in Rhode Island! I would love their old recipes. I can still taste the Russian Tea cakes, giant chocolate chip cookies, cream puffs, and the bread!!! Unbelievable bread!!
Other New England restaurants that have closed that you might remember (no descriptions):
Ma Glockner's, Bellingham, MA
The Kernwood, Lynnfield, MA
Bob the Chef's, Boston, MA
The Falstaff Room, Boston, MA (Sheraton Copley)
on the Mall, Burlington Mall,
Ararat House of Bar-B-Que, Watertown, MA
Arsenal Diner, Watertown, MA
Lanno's, Watertown, MA
Hotel Edison, Lynn, MA
Kon Tiki Ports, Boston, MA
Bailey's (ice cream), Belmont and Boston, MA
Bamboo Hut, Arlington and Belmont, MA
Aku Aku, Cambridge, MA
Porterhouse Cafe, Cambridge, MA
Pewter Pot, various Massachusetts locations
J.B.'s Steak House, Newton, MA
Mel and Murray's Deli, Liberty Tree Mall, Danvers, MA
Joyce Chen, Cambridge, MA
Sun Luck, Burlington, MA
Pacific Hut, Burlington, MA
DePasquale's, Medford, MA
Giovanni's, Framingham, MA
Capucino's, Brookline and Newton, MA
The Yodler, Stowe, VT
The 88, Nashua, NH
The Rib Room (Hotel Sonesta), Cambridge, MA
The Averof, Cambridge, MA
Igo's, Cambridge, MA
Neptune Room (Hyannis, MA, Airport)
The Sizzleboard, Boston, MA (Hippie college waitress yelled at my folks for being indecisive)
The Hot Shoppe (Burlington Mall), Burlington, MA (cafeteria-style food not quite as good as the school lunches)
York's Steak House, Burlington, Mall, Burlington, MA
Royal Hawaiian, Burlington, MA (where ex-JV hockey players from Billerica got in fights, it always seemed)
Buzzy's Roast Beef, Boston, MA
Mills Falls Restaurant, Newton, MA
Tony's, Chesnut Hill, MA
Harold's Deli, Chestnut Hill Mall, Chestnut Hill, MA
Matt Garrett's, Sudbury, MA
The Chuck Wagon, Walpole, MA
Do you have a restaurant that you miss very much? If so, let us know, at Visiting New England.com.
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