Eatery serving New England fare turns 100
BERLIN, Vt. — A roadside restaurant that started the year World War I ended is still in business and thriving, this year celebrating 100 years of Yankee cooking in central Vermont.
The Wayside Restaurant has expanded over the years, serving about 1,000 meals a day. But it’s still a place where you can get New England classics like salt pork and milk gravy, boiled dinner (corned beef and cabbage) and warm Parker House rolls, named for the Boston hotel where they originated.
There’s also standard diner fare like burgers and fries, breakfast served all day, a hot turkey sandwich with gravy and pie — you name it, from cherry to maple cream — all at reasonable prices. There’s even a gluten-free menu, proof that the Wayside has kept up with the times.
The Wayside was started as a small lunchtime spot by Effie Ballou in 1918, below the house where she lived with her husband and children. She made pies and doughnuts at home and brought them to the restaurant. The place has been sold several times over the years to other families, including the current owners, Brian and Karen Galfetti Zechinelli, who have been running it for 20 years.
You might just have to wait in line to get a seat in a wooden booth, at a table or on circular stools at the U-shaped counter.
Not only are customers regulars for years, so are employees. Judy May has been waitressing there for 31 years. She says she’s now waiting on people she once served in high chairs.
The Zechinellis make sure to use local produce and meats and fish when they can, including fiddlehead ferns in the spring, fresh corn in the summer, squash in the fall, perch in the winter, Vermont-made liquors and maple sap that’s added to dishes, like maple sap poached eggs. Customers wait in line for a table at Berlin, Vt.’s Wayside Restaurant, celebrating 100 years in business this year.