So, OK, I have to admit to being a bit humbled and chastened here, for this is a Muscato's Musings column that should have been written a couple years ago. I mean, really, when you think of “Old School” and nostalgic and beyond nostalgic Easton, can we do any better than McMenamy's Hamburger House?
No, we can't.
Of course I have mentioned McMenamy's Hamburger House in my columns, but didn't feature it. Until today.
McMenamy's Hamburger House has the best burgers (charbroiled or grilled, however you like them) anywhere.
Nostalgic “ambiance” that is unmatched. Comfort food.
Everything about McMenamy's Hamburger House is feel good.
Last week, I posted a photo on my Facebook page of a McMenamy's steakburger with cheese on a buttered roll, sitting on – as it is almost always served – a paper plate. That photo launched a powerful stream of fond remembrance and happy reflection.
Lucy Hanouche (Oliver Ames High School '81): “Yum!!”
MaryEllen Bodio (OA '82): “Love McMenamy's!!!! ALL AMERICAN FOOD!”
Christine (Golden) Gadless (OA '90): “The Best!!”
Lisa (Anacleto) Donath (OA '80 – now living in California): “Yum! I so miss McMenamy's Hamburger!!!!!!”
Bob Havey (Mansfield High School '66 – now living in Easton): “One of the best cheeseburgers anywhere!”
Chris Dunlea (from Bolton, MA; Nashoba Valley Regional High School '85 – now living in Easton): “Best burgers anywhere!”
Patty McAndrews (OA '72 – now living in California): “I can almost taste it”
Diane Richard (OA '82): “tastes of home sweet home”
Michael Iarrobino (OA '70): “The best part besides eating the burger was watching them grind the meat right there for the burgers.” (Michael went on to write in the post that it reminded him of his dad's meat market in Roslindale where his father ground meat.)
Another nice testimony came from Angela Cabral, who lived in Easton until she was six years old, before her family moved to Oregon. Her dad is Don Cabral (OA '59), and he married an Easton gal, and Angela's moher – Lois Bonney – and through the years Angela has traveled back to Easton with her father.
On Facebook, Angela posted, "Best Place ... in the World!!!~ Go there everyday when Dad & I are back home!! My Mom worked there when she was growing up & My Gram too!!~ Best Bugers ever!! Sure Miss Frank!"
In 1954, Frank McMenamy opened a butcher shop on the property on Washington Street/Rte. 138 diagonally across where today is Buddy's Union Villa. Frank sold prime meats, including ground quality chuck made on the premises.
One day Frank was making himself lunch, and a postman stopped in on his rounds, and Frank offered the postman a burger, the type he was making for himself. The postman gobbled it up, and said it was the best burger he ever had.
And that started it. Frank added a few stools and table and was open for lunch. Soon enough, word got out and lines began to form. More stools and tables followed.
Around 1956, McMenamy's Hamburger House was a bonafide lunch spot – and a favored one at that. Getting on to nearly 60 years later, all that remains true. And McMenamy's is still in the same building with its painted brown shingles and its charmingly chipped and worn painted white trim.
Generations of Eastoners and those from the surrounding area have maintained and indulged their hankering for the fare of McMenamy's Hamburger House. It has been featured in stories in print and on TV.
Of course, I knew the place well as a kid. I also remember later into the evening, after the restaurant had closed, and you drove by, almost always you could see Frank McMenamy sitting at a table within, next to the glow of a table lamp, as he did his bookkeeping and went over his receipts.
McMenamy's Hamburger House is still a family run enterprise – and still in the McMenamy family. When Frank McMenamy died in 1990, ownership of the business transferred to his daughter, Karen Carter. She is still an owner, along with Karen's son, Steven, who also cooks in the kitchen everyday.
And there is still so much about McMenamy's Hamburger House that resembles the era when it was established – and the years not long after. To see what I mean, please click here to see an excellent short video that Easton resident Burt Lewis created in 2007.
You got the food served on paper plates. You got those plastic mustard and ketchup squirt containers. Formica covered tables. An old fashioned milk dispenser (you know, the one with the steel case and the rubber nozzle and pull down lever). Memorabilia on the walls from decades ago (and some more recent).
Sodas served in cans with a plastic cup on top. Mimeographed paper menus, and that classic lit Coca-Cola menu board (please see attached photo), which includes a partial list of items available.
Prices are great: for example, $2.40 for a grilled sirloin burger (add 15 cents for cheese); $3.05 for a charbroiled steakburger (add 15 cents for cheese); $1.95 for a grilled Frankfurter; and $1.75 for a regular order of fries or a side of baked beans.
I was at McMenamy's yesterday, and a gentleman sat next to me on the right and ordered franks and beans with a buttered roll on the side. A gentleman to my left ordered clam chowder (and McMenamy's has standout clam chowder) and half an order of franks and beans – which means one frankfurter and 50 percent of the beans the guy on my right was getting.
As for me, when I sit down at McMenamy's, I order a couple charbroiled steakburgers with cheese with raw onion, fries, and an ice coffee (excellent ice coffee here as well, and available year round). I put ketchup and mustard on the burgers, and ketchup on the fries.
I am not one of the many regulars at McMenamy's – indeed, cheeseburgers and fries, no matter how high quality and delicious are not recommended for regular consumption – but I go in there to satisfy my craving, and when I am looking for an atmosphere of comfort.
Then again, there are healthier options than burgers and fries on the McMenamy's menu, but I for one am not that interested in them when I am there.
I recommend McMenamy's Hamburger House highly.
Good for the tummy, good for the emotions, good for the soul.