New England Memories: Larry’s Cedar Crest Restaurant
Larry’s Cedar Crest Restaurant Lawrence, MA
I have had “write blog about The Cedar Crest” on my to-do list for about a year now. Little did I know then, that when I finally got around to it, I would be writing its obituary. I was shocked the other day when I heard on the news that it would be closing at the end of August. I do not remember the first time I went to “The Crest” but I would guess it was when we rented space for our first t-shirt shop on Osgood St. in Methuen, MA back in 1979 or so. It was right up Route 28 from there, the food was great and so were the prices. I have been going ever since, still making the trip down to Lawrence every so often, but more like two or three times a month lately. I joke with my kids that they have been eating at The Crest since before they were born as me and my wife would stop there on the way to Lamaze classes at the Lawrence General Hospital.
“Larry’s”, as the old-timers still call it, is just one of those great old-time restaurants that serve basic comfort food—everything from club sandwiches to veal parmesan (I still think it is pork, but it is great just the same), open face roast beef sandwiches, franks and beans, fried haddock, pot roast—you name it. There is also a grill, so you can get breakfast anytime or burgers and grilled cheese. The restaurant is divided into two sections. There’s the diner or cart side that has the grill and a counter. There’s also table service for seating and the fancier restaurant side. I have been to the place hundreds of times and I think I may have gone to the restaurant side once.
But what always made The Crest even more interesting, especially years ago, were the people who worked there and the regular customers. There was Blanch who worked the cash register. When paying your bill she would always say “thank-you have a nice day” in, let’s just say, a less then sincere monotone manner. There was old Phil, the short order cook. He would shuffle back and forth between the grill and the refrigerator cooking up a storm and talking with the people sitting at the counter. Every once in a while Larry himself would come over from the restaurant side to check on things and stir the grape-nut custard. Way back when there was Maurice, the pastry chef. He would bring out all the days fresh baked goods in the morning looking dashing with his scarf, which I found out later was just a cloth napkin from the restaurant side. And he made the best custard pie! Larry also had a son, who would have taken over the business but sadly died prematurely. He would hang out at the end of the counter smoking a butt and talking to Eddie the waiter. Ah, Eddie the waiter. He has the world’s best comb over and is still there to this day. I saw him the other night swearing about a group of customers under his breath while getting them coffee. “One thing at a f@#king time for Christ’s sake”. Some things never change. At one point there was a girl named Linda who worked behind the counter. She and Eddie hated each other and their verbal battles were legendary. If my friends and I went in for lunch, we always sat at her counter to get a good seat for the dinner theater that was sure to unfold, especially if we egged it on just a touch.
I think the most memorable customer was Senator Wall. He was an old-time Massachusetts politician who ate at The Crest every night. Even though he was retired, I understand he would make the nightly rounds to the wakes paying his condolences to his constituent’s families. When the Senator would walk in the restaurant he would shake hands up and down the place irritating Eddie because he was in the way.
I am hoping that someone will come along and buy the place and keep it going. There are a lot of nice people who still work there and I feel bad for them. It is also just sad that places like The Cedar Crest are going by the wayside.
Blog-in and share your Cedar Crest memories.