This article was written by Fred Mello, the owner of Cafe 4:13 in the Mirror Lake Publix Shopping Center. He is a former resident of Rhode Island.
As I sit down to write this little article, I hope to do justice to one of the most beautiful areas ever created in this great country of ours. Every year, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of tourists come from all over the US, as well as abroad for just a quick glimpse of this shining emerald by the sea. Good Morning America voted it as one of the top 10 breathtaking places to visit. Exciting news.
Could it be the gilded mansions of yesteryear? The Vanderbilts, Astors, Dukes, Firestones, and many more of the elite society class built huge magnificent homes as their “summer cottages”. Some had as many as 40 rooms overlooking the highest cliffs on the oceanfront. Some of these privileged gentlemen would hire local folks to go to the commercial lobster boats to purchase 55 gallon barrels filled with live lobsters from the day’s catch. Very early the next morning, before sunrise, the “chummers” as they were called, would take the barrels full of lobsters to the water’s edge where 300 foot long fishing platforms began in the granite rock and extended out into the sea. With bats and clubs, they would break the lobsters all around the platform until the water was teaming with huge Striped Bass. After rising at a more leisurely hour, and finishing a six course breakfast, the trophy sportsman who owned the house, would then be escorted down to the platform to do battle with the stripers looking for the next piece of fresh lobster! Talk about the lap of luxury – this was IT.
Tourists come to see the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, the cobblestone streets, the renowned America’s Cup sailing ships and the Tennis Hall of Fame, the spectacular beauty, and crashing waves at First, Second or Third Beach. And not to be forgotten are the restaurants, or more importantly the seafood itself. Flo’s Crab Shack, Anthony’s Seafood, the Black Pearl, and The Moorings, are just a few famous dining establishments here. Many of these local restaurants have been mentioned on the Food Network.
For a moment, let your mind indulge sweet succulent lobster right out of the trap, plump juicy mussels fresh from the dock, salty tender little neck clams just brought in from the bay, Stuffies (a stuffed clam with chopped onion, peppers, Portuguese sausage and special seasonings), fried clams, haddock, calamari, clam cakes, and let’s not forget, New England Clam Chowder.
Are you getting hungry yet? If I describe any more I might start to eat my keyboard. During the peak tourist season or on any given weekend, it is not unusual to wait two hours or more to sample this delectable seafood.
For the past ten years or so, in September or October, the good LORD has given me the privilege of going to New England or more specifically, Newport, Rhode Island. Every year upon my return to Georgia, I have tried to figure out a way to bring the taste of New England back here. This year, HE showed me that “All things are possible” (Philippians 4:13). Through a chance meeting, I met a man who brings down fresh seafood directly from Boston and the rest of New England, twice a week. After telling him my dream of serving fresh seafood, (not frozen, like other restaurants), he assured me that we can make this happen.
And happen it did, beginning slowly in October with New England Clam Chowder. The response from customers has been so overwhelming that we are shifting a large focus of the restaurant to FRESH seafood, in addition to continuing to serve the home style southern cooking items we are already popular for.
I hope this article has been of interest to some of you. The beauty of New England is close to my heart, because, not only have I gotten to visit these past ten years, but I also get to go home. It is where I was born. If you are from New England or New Georgia, if you grew up eating fresh seafood, or want to try it for the very first time, please stop by Café 4:13, 2000 Mirror Lake Blvd. Villa Rica (in the Publix shopping center) or give us a call at (770) 459-4474, and we can talk about “Lobstah, Chowdah, Stuffies and snow storms”. I hope to see you soon!