Yeah, I think this week we’re going out to eat again.
Last year around this time, we dropped in on my grandparents in May 1969, as they marked their wedding anniversary with a splurgey meal in the upscale town of Westport.
This year we revisit them six years later to the day. They are still married, of course, and still committed to going out for their anniversary.
But some things have changed: My grandpa is retired now, and has a little less money to throw around. He’s probably watching what he eats a little bit more, too.
For this year’s celebration, they stay a little closer to home, choosing a Stamford institution for their big dinner:
A little searching on the Internet, and the place starts coming alive:
The Stamford Advocate tells us the Chimney Corner did business for 41 years at Long Ridge and Webbs Hill roads, and was particularly popular among elderly diners for its early-bird specials.
This undated, unused postcard brings us inside the main dining room, decorated in an early American style.
This ’50s-era postcard shows us the distinctive slope of the building’s exterior, as well as a landmark depiction of a horse and sleigh that stood over the parking lot entrance until somebody knocked it over.
This matchbook tells me my grandparents would have called Davis 2-1264 to make a reservation. (Well, OK, not by 1975 they wouldn’t have.)
This sugar cube tells us … well, it doesn’t really lend any historical insight per se, but it’s sorta fun to imagine my grandma putting one in her coffee. (There was a time when sugar didn’t come from sealed paper envelopes, apparently.)
And this article from the New York Times (which may be trapped behind the Gray Lady’s paywall for non-subscribers) fills us in on what became of the place: Most of it was torn down in 1991 to make way for a shopping center. The corner of the building with the namesake chimney was retained, apparently as some sort of tie to the past.
The one thing I can’t find online is a menu that would help me get a sense of what my grandparents would have sat down to on May 3, 1975. (I do find a past eBay listing of an old menu, but wouldn’t you know it, it’s closed. The menu. Not the auction. Well, yeah, both, actually.)
I note that the New York Times’ archives do not include any reviews of the Chimney Corner Inn — unlike the Westport restaurant where my grandparents ate in 1969, which received a NYT review a number of years later.
If the Chimney Corner Inn was around for 41 years and New York’s paper of record never went to the ‘burbs to check it out, its culinary reputation couldn’t have been too noteworthy.
I’m guessing the place was one of those stolid, upright, not-tremendously-creative locally owned restaurants every city has — the sort of place you go for high school graduations or anniversaries that don’t end in zero or five. I imagine they broiled a lot of prime rib, stuffed a lot of pork chops and baked a lot of potatoes over the course of 41 years.
There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, of course, if that’s what you’re looking for.
It seems to have struck a chord with my grandparents: A little further research indicates they’d been there the year before.
I guess predictable and reliable are good things to be after 30-plus years of marriage — whether you’re talking about the marriage, or the place you go to celebrate it.