Deci’s Drive-In – Gone But Not Forgotten
Posted on August 4, 2015
Just a few weeks ago, my nephew Mike, my sisters and I were reminiscing about Deci’s. Once a drive-in restaurant in Manchester, Connecticut, it was one of my father’s favorite places. I was so young when I first started going to Deci’s Drive-In that my father used to carry me inside with him. Located at 463 Center Street, I’m sure Dad discovered Deci’s – which was a about a half way point from our home to the east – on his way to work in downtown Hartford. On his days off, he sometimes brought my mother, my sister Candy and me there, as well as, Mike and his younger brother Johnny and my niece Debbie. In talking about our memories of Deci’s, of course, what we are really talking about is our memories of Dad/Big Johnny.
I recall the long counter where orders were put in and the white aprons worn by the men who worked there and made a fuss over me as a child. Dad and Mom would order the foot-long-hotdogs with the special “hot sauce” put out by Deci’s and my sister and I got hot dogs with ketchup. We would all share an order of french fries. My parents had coffee and my sister and I drank Cokes. Dad and I would follow the order down the counter to pick-up where it was served in a cardboard box. Then, we ate in the car.
Opened in the 1940’s and closed in the late 1970’s, Deci’s was a popular landmark. The building was razed after it was closed and all that is left of it now is an empty lot. I was beginning to think my family members were the only ones who even remembered this marvelous little place until I learned that Deci’s would be featured on the tee-shirt for the 15th Annual Crusin’ On Main held in Manchester this past Sunday, August 2. I had made other plans for the day but when I found out about the Deci’s tee-shirt I knew I had to try to get one. So I made an early stop at the event which was slated to get underway at 11:00 a.m. Success! The tee-shirt booth by Center Memorial Park was already set-up.
According to “Another Time” published by the Manchester Historical Society, Deci’s was a Thursday night must for area teens and their hotrods. Operated by Anthony and Crescent DeCiantis, it was open seven days a week and known for using top quality products. When customers ordered everything on the hotdogs, Another Time noted, the workers would shout out “Drag It Through the Garden.” A headline on a July, 2009 piece written for the Journal Inquirier by Richard Tambling described Deci’s as being like “a scene out of American Grafitti”. Deci’s, he said, was expanded in the 1960s. Still missed, the famous meaty hot sauce, or chili, was a “secret” recipe belonging to the DeCiantis brothers.
It’s nice to know like people once in our lives – Deci’s is gone but not forgotten.
Some antique and classic vehicles had arrived when I made my early stop at Crusin’ On Main and I snapped a few photos….