Steve Woodman: My name’s Steve Woodman, grandson of Chubby Woodman, who started business in 1914. This is a story of his life and the business as it goes along. He grew up in Hamilton with his mother and father, father dying when he was very young. When that happened, his mom moved to Essex and started a little bake shop. Chubby, my grandfather was going to school but decided when he was in third grade to quit school and go to work. He actually went to work at an Uncle’s Farm that was in Wyndham, Prince, Mary State.

He became a stable boy. By being a stable boy and working around the horses, he became a very good rider where his aunt really enjoyed Chubby riding the horses and actually driving her in the carts. Working there seven years, he got to meet a lot of people that they hang around with, a lot of the other states and Beverly farms Wenham and Hamilton and got to know them. Then, he decided to leave. After seven years, came back here to Essex and started doing some clamming.

Selling some clams, opening up the roadsides stand in 1914, selling clams. Then, in 1916, after selling some potato chips and frying some clams on July 3rd, 1916, developed the business that is going strong now. In the 20s, actually 1923, he decided to look into doing clambakes. He knew about clambakes from actually his father-in-law because he was working part-time with Roberts of Gloucester clambake catering. Back then, it was like the Indians did, they went to the beach, they dug holes, they took all day to do a clambake.

Well, Chubby in his innovative way says, “We can do this a different way and make it faster and more profitable.” He started cooking on top of the ground with a wood fire in these big pots and developed the clambake business where he could travel and go anywhere. He didn’t have to go to a beach. He started the clambake business. That started catching on slowly but started catching on. As the years got going through the depression, things got hard. They were just living hand to mouth. Summer was good, winters were bad.

He was trying to figure a way to make extra money and they keep themselves going. The restaurant across the street came up for sale, he bought that and actually kept that going through some hard times. Just kept on going, year after year after year. My father, Dexter, got involved in the business. Business started getting a little bit better, a little bit stronger. Summers were great. Again, winters were not so great. He eventually opened year round which was in the 60s.

In the 70s, they decide to get into the fine catering and they opened what is now called the Essex Room. It was the function hall and developed that business. Now, there are 5th generation family members working in the business. Both at function hall, and clambake catering, and here at the restaurant.

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