Over the years, I’ve used my grandfather’s calendar entries to follow him to all kinds of long-closed businesses.
There was Stamford’s beloved Chimney Corner Inn … the Clam Box in Wethersfield, a heavenly-sounding family-owned seafood place … a Red Coach Grill chain restaurant in Framingham, Massachusetts … and the expensive-but-worth-it Carriage House in Westport, just to name a few.
It’s kinda nice to come across a place on his calendars that’s still in operation, under its original name, all these years later.
It’s like a minor connection to his world — and a reminder that, while the retail world is fleeting and capricious, a few businesses do it well enough to really last.
New Hampshire has only 13 miles of coastline (18 by some measurements), so I figured Amarante’s had to be one of a relative few restaurants lucky enough to nestle in. Must be some of the state’s most expensive real estate, I figured. Did the food match the view?
I was totally off the mark, of course. “N.H.,” in this case, meant New Haven, just up the coast from my grandparents, a city they’d visited when my Aunt Elaine went to school at what was then Southern Connecticut State College.
And it was my Aunt Elaine they were once again meeting there — this time, I’m guessing, to scout out the potential site of a wedding reception.
Amarante’s, unlike the places I listed above, isn’t a restaurant. It’s a wedding and function hall overlooking the ocean, in the Morris Cove area on the east side of the city’s harbor.
Apparently, the place did well enough at the June 6 visit to win over my family and get the gig.
Serpe Bros., the tuxedo shop mentioned in my grandpa’s August 17 entry, is still in business on Bedford Avenue in Stamford.
And Amarante’s, now known as Amarante’s Sea Cliff, is still serving up chicken piccata and “Brick House” to a whole new generation of southern Connecticut brides and grooms after more than 50 years.
I’ve not been there myself, so I couldn’t endorse the place, but they must be doing something right. It takes some degree of skill to keep any service business going that long, no matter how good the location.
I’ve wondered before about how much, or how little, my grandfather would recognize if he were able to visit his old stomping grounds today.
Change is inevitable — and often for the better. But it’s still kinda cool to find out about a place he’d know, and a place where he (presumably) had a good time while marking a major family event.
Although I’ve never been to Amarante’s, I can sort of imagine my grandfather looking out across New Haven harbor in his rented gladrags, munching a plate of cheese and crackers, and smiling.