As we spring forward this Sunday and hopefully will have faced our last bit of snow for the season, New Englanders hope to soon hear the familiar springtime chirps and songs of birds, see colorful blooming of flowers, and enjoy the beauties a New England springtime presents. Of course, here in New England, many enjoy what every season has to offer; come winter time people are excited to hit the slopes and appreciate New England’s dynamic seasonal gifts. On the other hand, come March we are sick and tired of the blistering blizzards and early morning shoveling duties that are of obligation if we are to conquer slushy icy roads on our ways to work. So naturally now is the time to romanticize the coming of spring, allows me to reflect rather indulgently upon the simplicities of what spring time means to me.
Certainly everyone’s great simplicity they cherish the most is the returning of warm weather; an apparent friendliness in the air after enduring Mother Nature’s more bitter tests. With the coming of warmer weather, New Englanders inherently look towards summertime; they can hear the crashing of waves at Cranes Beach, they envision the scents of the New England Clambake all around them as they lounge in their backyard, they plan relaxing days entrenched in warm sand and cool breezes with the people they love and, afterwards, they look forward to Woodman’s of Essex.
As a native to the North shore, now entering my 20’s I recognize Woodman’s of Essex to be as vital to a New England summertime as the red lobsters that await you in the front of the restaurant. Despite open year round, the summertime is really when Woodman’s of Essex has solidified itself as a pinnacle of the New England experience; its tradition, unparalleled, its food, unmatched, and its overall experience, an essential component of the perfect summer day.
The tradition of Woodman’s of Essex is what truly and ultimately separates itself from any other clam shack. In 1916, Chubby Woodman, the father of Woodman’s, invented the fried clam on a hot 4th of July day. Following that 4th of July, the fried clam inspired not just a culinary, but cultural revolution throughout New England. Opening in 1914, Woodman’s of Essex approaches its 100 year anniversary bearing Chubby’s fried clam as its flagship to fame and prominence. Customers can feel the history and rustic New England vibe as they “eat in the rough”. If that weren’t enough, customers can look around and experience five generations of Woodman’s that continue Chubby’s commitment to excellence not only in the seafood Woodman’s prepares, but the excellence it strives for as a member of the New England community.
Of course, Woodman’s does not simply rely on the history of its company; Woodman’s of Essex has been recognized by many for its award-winning fried clams, fried scallops, clam chowder, and fresh lobster. Using only the freshest and local seafood, Woodman’s has been dubbed “the best seafood in America” by Forbes. Furthermore, its traditional New England clam chowder may be the best cup of “chowda” any Bostonian can enjoy after escaping an unpredictable New England summer shower. And from personal experience, being at Woodman’s at the break of dawn, the hundreds of lobsters served to perfection arrive fresh daily from Maine or other local lobstermen. Not to mention an extraordinary clambake menu.
Fittingly, everything culminates in the authentic ambiance of Woodman’s that captures the personality of the community it serves and the greater community of New England. As a family restaurant, “eat in the rough” is the sign visible out front and the mood felt within as thousands of customers enjoy the simplicities of great seafood and great service with their own families. Believe it or not, Woodman’s has more to offer than just the restaurant; after a long summer day one can escape to the newly-renovated top deck where one can enjoy raw bar, a cool breeze, and even colder drinks. Moreover, Woodman’s hosts and caters weddings and other events at its Essex Room, a picturesque hall that oversees what could be the most perfect snapshot of summer in New England, a sunset over the Essex River.
In closing, I will be continuing these weekly blog posts and hope to further connect Woodman’s of Essex with the community it serves. I would be ecstatic to hear from you, my audience, about your own experiences at Woodman’s or if there are any things you would like me to report back to you or instill through this blog. I would be remiss not to include a quote of history, “The New Englander is attached to his township because it is strong and independent; he has an interest in it because he shares in its management; he loves it because he has no reason to complain of his lot; he invests his ambition and his future in it; in the restricted sphere within his scope, he learns to rule society; he gets to know those formalities without which freedom can advance only through revolutions, and becoming imbued with their spirit, develops a taste for order, understands the harmony of powers, and in the end accumulates clear, practical ideas about the nature of his duties and the extent of his rights,” Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America. As Tocqueville reported more than 200 years ago, New England is a strong community built of smaller, strong ones. Through my blog series, I hope to emphasize how Woodman’s portrays “the Spirit of Massachusetts, the Spirit of America”, and, perhaps a bit romantically, rekindle and connect this communal spirit of New England that I feel Woodman’s of Essex is all but essential to, especially as we approach summertime.