One of my first jobs growing up was as a bus boy for a restaurant called The Clam Bar. I had gotten the job because the owner was a friend of my family and both my sisters were waitresses there. The Clam Bar or Smitty’s as some locals would call it captures the essence of the traditional vernacular landscape in many ways. The restaurant features some of the best seafood I have ever eaten in my life. The clam chowder and anything on their specials boards is worthy of any foodie’s attention. This hidden gem is set back on a back bay off the Atlantic and has an ambiance of pure tradition. Rather than being caught up in the vicious circle of ornamenting a fashionable décor—Smitty’s keeps is simple. The wallpaper tabletops have been there longer than the owner who bought the restaurant many years ago. The dining room chairs are simple black cushioned seats. The walls feature art from the local artist and have seaside themes. When waiting in line for the bathroom queue members can enjoy candid Polaroid pictures on a bulletin board of past and current employees who may, or may not have been drinking. All things considered, Smitty’s harnesses a nostalgia that keeps locals and tourists coming back year after year.
Aside from the restaurants décor, the vernacular landscape of Smitty’s is predicated on its climate. Smitty’s is a seasonal restaurant and is only open in the summer months. However, there are no air-conditioning units and only small fans placed in the corner of the dining rooms. This keeps the summer vibe inside. On hot days in august, it is particularly amusing, but also frightening when an elderly man orders a burning hot cup of New England Clam chowder for lunch. Moreover, on any night in the summer the wait time for a table at Smitty’s ranges anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours (no reservations). What would usually be considered a drawback is actually a quintessential feature of the place. Because the restaurant acquired a BYOB liquor license patrons are encouraged to enjoy wine or beer while they wait outside for their table. This creates an anticipatory build up and also gives patrons time to socialize with each other, enjoy a drink, and take in the bay view. Outside the restaurant is lined with park benches that give off a summer park vibe. At Smitty’s waiting 3 hours for a table is often the highlight of the night.