Standing Room Only

27 02 2017

cypress-in-1936Sometimes we don’t know the impact we have on others. Teachers may touch a student and never learn about it. A kind word or considerate action may brighten someone’s day in a significant way.

And sometimes it’s a restaurant that touches many people without even realizing it. Such is the case of the Cypress Restaurant in Middletown, Connecticut, now closing its doors after 80 years. First started by James and Rose Carta, the diner hosted celebrities such as Al Jolson, Glenn Miller, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Benny Goodman in its heyday.

Later, the restaurant was taken over by twin sons Joe and Jimmy. People came for traditional All-American dinners that included some Italian specialties, and many home-style meals such as meatloaf and open-faced sandwiches with gravy. It was a place for weddings, baby showers, and all kinds of celebrations. People met their future spouses there. Great friendships developed. I myself did a book signing there to a standing room only crowd. I hosted my daughter’s master’s celebration there. She had her baby shower there. And we attended many family and public gatherings at that site.

There were those who are regulars at the bar, a sort of Cheers-like family. They knew each other’s ups and downs. They anguished over people gone missing and mourned the passing of their members.


The staff was legendary and the average length of stay was more than 14 years. Certain people, like Helen, waitressed there forever. In recent years, they encouraged local bands, trivia night, open mic, and all sorts of just regular good fun.

It was a place that supported the Carta families for many years but Joe and Jimmy had reached the age where they deserve some time off. They found a family-oriented buyer for the Cypress. So, after 80 years, they were closing.

Yesterday was their final day and it was standing room only. Cars were parked all over nearby lawns and overflowed into the school parking lot behind the restaurant. The place was so packed, it was impossible to walk from one end of the diner to the other. Waitresses were taking orders out the front door and back in the bar door in order to reach their customers. The place was jammed, the place was hopping.

cypress-standing-room-onlyFor a while, I sat with a daughter of each of the twins. They were commenting on this person and that who walked in. So many people. Some they didn’t even know. And I realized that The Cypress was one of those places that served not only good meals but good will, heartfelt connections, and strong caring. It was a place where people could feel at home and musicians felt they were playing in someone’s living room. People who had no one could go and feel comfortable. The Cypress, its owners, and staff touch the hearts of many. And we had all come to say goodbye.

Standing room only.