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The Way of the Ocean Cafe

Photo Source: Hidden Boston.

My life began at Haddad's Ocean Café in Brant Rock. I was born in 1964, and as soon as my parents brought me home, they went Haddad's to recover from my entrance into the world. Legend says that I was—at the tender age of two weeks—plopped on the bar while George mixed drinks for my parents.


To try and unwind my life from Haddad’s Ocean Café would be like trying to unwind Catholicism from my Irishness. Or to unwind me from my from my mother’s love. There have been few irrefutable facts in my life, but Haddad’s is one of them. Haddad’s and the Haddad family sharpened in and out of my life’s focus like a clarifying beacon. After my parents divorced, my father would take me and my brother there on Saturday afternoons, buying me packages of peanuts. I’d watch cliff diving on Wide World of Sports while Dick Prince rambled at the other end of the bar.


Friday nights at Haddad’s was standing room only. My mother, Tomi Flanagan, took us there for those Friday tribal gatherings, where everybody had to wait at the bar for a table. Lawyers and bankers clad in colorful Talbot’s gear crushed against gnarly-fingered lobstermen defending shots and beers. When were first dating, I brought my wife-then-girlfriend Chantal there, a sort of test: How do you like these apples? She loved it: the slanting floors, the crowed bar, the waitresses. And when Madeline came out and squeezed into the booth with us, Chantal was smitten.


A few years later, when it was time to book the rehearsal dinner for our wedding, we called Chuck Haddad. Chantal’s family and friends were flying in from France, Germany, and Switzerland to get a look at this Irish Catholic kid with temerity to love their girl. Chuck wowed them with a classic lobster dinner. Whenever we see one of those far-flung family members, they always talk about that lobster dinner with Chuck, their way of telling me, “You’re all right, kid.”


Years later, when the Ocean Café moved into their new digs, I remember how excited Chuck was to show us around when we made our first visit. It didn’t matter that we lived far away and made only infrequent returns. It was like we never left. “Chantal,” Chuck said, “follow me. I want to show you this kitchen!” Two beers later they returned, Chuck beaming.


If you are from Marshfield your life is entwined with Haddad’s Ocean Café. Like me, some strand of the Haddads’ generosity and love winds through you, making the fabric of our lives richer, fuller, and more joyful. Thanks to all the Haddads for those enduring gifts. Buen camino!

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1 Comment

Jun 09

Shawn thank you for expressing so eloquently our lifelong commitment to Haddads. Jacqueline Creed

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