Monday, December 14, 2009

Front Street Part I (Scrapbook Nostalgia)

Two of the crowd I hung out with in Provincetown, Howard Gruber & Edmund DiStasi, opened Front Street in ... I forget ... 1975 or so. They took over an already existing restaurant that had specialized in hamburgers; in order to get some extra money coming in Howard & Eddie stayed open after the bars closed at 1 a.m. Just before the drunks would begin stumbling in, a sign was posted outside the door NO ASSHOLES ALLOWED.

Front Street did well; it soon became the place for the finest dining in Provincetown, the place to see and to be seen, and Howard & Edmund no longer needed to stay open late to serve omelettes to drunks.

I was a waiter at an extremely busy restaurant across the street; it was geared to tourists, large numbers of them, an "eat it and beat it" sort of place. The owner, Joy, added a second dining room, to which guests had to be led down a rather drab corridor. When Edmund came across the street to see the new room, Joy led him to it. As he stepped into the corridor he remarked rather snootily, "You're going to lead them down this?"

"Yes ... all three hundred of them," Joy retorted. Even Edmund, who would have been pleased with forty or fifty diners a night, could not help but appreciate this perfect and perfectly snappy response to his haughtiness.

(While making a sharp right turn into the drab hall a waiter named Alex un-balanced the round tray he was holding aloft; the hot fudge sundae on the tray, in its thick-glassed classical cone-shaped dish, toppled; it landed smack-dab and upside down on the head of a woman sitting at a four-top snuggled up to the hall's entrance ... creating, with rivulets of hot fudge streaming down her face, what could have become a new fashion in millinery).

In 1982 I had my first-night (of the season) table companions autograph the menu. Fourteen bucks each for four courses. I can still remember particular tastes of some of Howard's magnificent dishes, and my mind smiles when I recall the flair with which Edmund DiStasi ushered guests to tables.

Below, Freres Fitzgerald, lunching at Front Street in the late seventies.

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