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Thread: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

  1. #1
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    Default Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    When I came to college in Boston, in 1969, there was a place downtown not far from the waterfront, with three ancient long buildings... this was the 'Quincy Market'. The building were all in somewhat of a shambles... the center one was used by wholesale butchers, but most of the outer two buildings were essentially derelicts.

    However, the northern building did contain one gem: a 192 year old restaurant called 'Durgin Park'. This restaurant, 100 years ago, served primarily working folks. The upstairs dining room consisted of long tables with checkered tablecloths, and patrons were seated side-by-side, so you sat with strangers. The menu consisted of very traditional New England fare: roast duck, pork chops with apple sauce and stuffing, prime rib, clam chowder, indian pudding (my favorite), etc. The decor looked as if it hadn't changed in 150 years, with an open kitchen, tin ceiling, well-worn wooden floors, etc.

    The best part of the place were the waitresses.... who all looked like they were parolees from a woman's prison.... tough, hard women who had little or no patience with demanding customers. I recall that a tourist sitting next to me, one time, asked for sour cream for his baked potato. The waitress responded, "Where the hell do you think you are... the Ritz?"

    Another time, the big pewter water pitcher on our table was empty... so I asked the waitress for more. She grabbed me by the collar, pulled me up to my feet, and told me to take the pitcher... she then pulled me towards the kitchen, and pointed to the sink. I remember the same waitress occasionally going over to a window, and reaching outside to take a swig from a bottle she was keeping on the outside ledge.

    To say the place had character, would be a huge understatement.

    Quincy Market was eventually redeveloped... and the redevelopment occurred AROUND Durgin Park, so the restaurant stayed the same, while the rest of the complex was turned into the usual tourist trap of boutiques, a food court in the center building, bars and lounges, and pushcarts selling overpriced trinkets.

    For a while, the restaurant stayed the same....

    ...but eventually, the quality suffered. I recall taking my daughters there, after the older one's high school graduation. The food just wasn't the same... the half roast duck, my favorite entree, was no longer on the menu... and the Indian pudding was just awful.

    The restaurant is now going to close, in a few days (although there is a some talk about a last minute reprieve from a potential buyer).

    If it closes, a grand tradition will have been lost. I'm glad I was able to enjoy it, when it was in it's prime.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  2. #2
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    Interesting. I'll bet my folks remember that place.

    What are you doing about it?




  3. #3
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    I ate there back in the early 90's while I was in Boston training on Banyan Vines NOS. I recall the prime rib was outstanding and the waitress was a hoot.

    Sad to hear it's closing
    Tom

    "Leave the gun, take the cannolis"

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    I was listening to Boston Public Radio when Jim Braude announced the news, along with reporting that the manager blamed the soon to be implement raise in the minimum wage, a point Braude emphatically doubted. His doubts were sustained by the blizzard of calls from customers and workers who said that management drove the place into the ground. The first winter I had Granuaile in Boston for the winter I did a nostalgia visit to Durgin Park and was repulsed by the food and the fact that the place had gone from homey with good food and trademark service to dingy with bad food and unmotivated service. So it surprises me that it took another two decades to finally die.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    One of my "materials & methods" instructors was involved in that late-70's Faneuil Hall project (he used a lot of his FH drawings as case-studies for the coursework, I can still draw several of the details from memory), and he had a few choice Durgin-Park stories involved in his lectures. Good times.
    No adversary is worse than bad advice.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    Quincy Market had ANOTHER restaurant, in the South building, which did NOT survive the redevelopment of the site... and it's one I know well.

    It was called 'Mondos'... a true greasy spoon diner, and it had been around for a very long time. It was famous for it's special: two eggs, hash browns, toast, bacon, sausage, ham, orange juice, and coffee.... all for $0.99... but served only after midnight.

    How did I know it? Because I used to drive a taxi, in college, always on the evening shift (4PM to midnight or later), and I used to go there at midnight for a meal. The place was famous for it's underworld characters, and for the prostitutes, and the pimps who would sit there and count up their evening's take....

    When Quincy Market was redeveloped, Mondos was forced to move.... to somewhere in the North End... but it didn't survive, after the move.
    "Reason and facts are sacrificed to opinion and myth. Demonstrable falsehoods are circulated and recycled as fact. Narrow minded opinion refuses to be subjected to thought and analysis. Too many now subject events to a prefabricated set of interpretations, usually provided by a biased media source. The myth is more comfortable than the often difficult search for truth."







  7. #7
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    Sorry to hear that

    Here is Seattle, the blue collar downtown eateries are all gone.
    Elect a clown expect a circus

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    This sounds like Lundy's in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood of Brooklyn. Lundy's was opened in the 1930's and closed in 2007.

    In Pot on the Fire John Thorne reprinted a woman's reminiscence:

    "This happened in the late 60's: my date and I had ordered the famous Shore Dinner. My lobster was served to me, but it wasn't cracked well enough to get at the meat of the body and the claws. We called the waiter over and explained the problem to him. He took my lobster, wrapped it in my dinner napkin, and smashed it against the nearest wall. He returned to our table, unwrapped my dinner, placed it on my plate, and said, 'How's that, lady?' That was the essence of Lundy's."
    War is peace.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    I enjoyed taking college friends from out of state there in the sixties and seventies. It was fun to suggest they ask for extra service or condiments and duck when the waitresses fired ice cubes and butter pats at them.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Durgin Park: a grand Boston tradition is about to close

    My mom said: "OH MY YES!!! My mom used to take me there for lunch when we took the train to Boston to go shopping! Can't believe no one has bought it!"

    My dad passed on the news to friends, saying: "The Durgin Park restaurant in Boston is closing, after maybe 150 years of operation. Long tables, serve yourself, with their signature Indian Pudding (preferably with vanilla ice cream) for desert. I can't believe they're shutting down, a tremendous loss to down east tradition."

    What are you doing about it?




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