The Waldorf: Fine dining in Davis Sq.

On January 18, 2014, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

del_ponte_4_webLife in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and  do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

You say you never heard of The Waldorf Restaurant (it was more like a cafeteria)? Well, that’s because you are either too young or you haven’t lived in this area very long, or both. By very long I mean the last 33 years or so because that’s at least how long The Waldorf has been gone. Today, on its former site stands Mike’s Restaurant. Because we couldn’t find any photos, I’m relying on my social media friends to try to recreate images of the old eatery. As far as we can remember, the front was stainless steel, with black and maroon accents.

dp_1_15_14_webThe Waldorf was mentioned in Somerville native Daniel McNeill’s novel The Two Worlds of Style Delaney. It’s about life in Davis Square in the 1950s. He states that he and his friends would be hanging out at The Waldorf at 3 a.m. I was never there that late. I used to go there with my fellow paperboys after delivering the Sunday newspapers for Abe Learner at the Davis Square News Agency. Me, Charlie and Joe “Donuts” used to go in and chow down on the most delicious pancakes in the world. After pushing around those huge, heavy, jam-packed wooden carts, and running up and down peoples steps to tuck the bulging Sunday paper inside the storm doors, breakfast was well deserved. I remember the thick, cream-colored, extra-thick plates and mugs they used at The Waldorf. They had these little hairline cracks all over them with a maroon rim. The knives, forks and spoons were heavy and of good quality, not like the cheap ones you get in most restaurants today that hurt your hand when you bear down on them. Walter, who shined shoes and sold papers there recalls, “You had to go through the kitchen of the Waldorf in order to use the coed restroom.”

If you wanted water, you served yourself. You could also walk in off the street and have a free glass of water. On one occasion, during World War II, two men showed up at The Waldorf and walked out with two large, freestanding fans (there was no air conditioning). The men and fans were never seen again! Pastry was under a glass counter. You ordered your meal and took it to a table. There were no waiters or waitresses, at least not until later years. When the waitresses finally started working at The Waldorf, I can still see them wearing their hairnets. There is restaurant staff today, male and female, in some of the eateries and bars in the square that should be wearing hairnets.

There was a guy who used The Waldorf as his “headquarters.” He was known simply as “Suitcase.” “This was because he used to steal luggage from the terminals at Logan Airport and sell them and their contents around Davis Square. Some may also recall a direct-line taxi phone in a little cubby at the front of The Waldorf.

The same windows that you can look out of while you chow down at Mike’s gave you a great view of what was happening in Davis Square back in the heyday of The Waldorf. Wouldn’t you love to go back to around 1950 and look at the square through the big windows of The Waldorf? But first enjoy your BLT, apple pie and ice cream sundae that cost a whopping $1!

 

1 Response » to “The Waldorf: Fine dining in Davis Sq.”

  1. Dick Hazel says:

    I worked at that Waldorf Cafeteria as a bus boy in the early 1950’s. Manager was Robert Blaisdell. Davis Square was very different then, a tad honky-tonk.

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