Breakfast out in downtown Boston.

Photo by Jacqueline Bennett  Memorable breakfast out in downtown Boston.


By Jacqueline Bennett


Breakfast out is a favorite treat that feels like being on vacation. When I learned yesterday of annual Breakfast Week slated for January 24-30, 2016 by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, to highlight the importance of “the most important meal of the day”, my plan was to write a straightforward report on the event.


My thoughts though kept drifting back to the most memorable of breakfasts experienced on the most memorable of trips from Connecticut up to Boston, Massachusetts to a Red Sox game. So the report instead became an anecdote. I hope you get a laugh from it – we have gotten many.


This Boston trip was meant to be special for my mother, a lifelong Red Sox fan. It turned out to be her last vacation before we lost her later that year and for that reason alone it is cherished. It also turned out to be memorable in so many ways – the ideally located downtown hotel mere walking distance from Fenway Park, the historic sites we visited, terrific restaurants where we ate, the fun we had walking around Boston Proper and of course the game itself – which the Sox won. All of it went smoothly until “that breakfast“.


In retrospect “that breakfast” has left us with a memory to laugh out loud about – one we would not have wanted to be without. In the midst of that morning, however, it was a frustrating farce.


It took place in a former – the key word here is former – Howard Johnson’s restaurant in downtown Boston. At one time Howard Johnson restaurants were a dominant brand in the Northeast, well-known for their long ‘seat yourself’ counters or ‘hostess will seat you’ dining rooms, and 28 flavors of ice cream. They were a go-to spot for middle-class America, a place to trust for quality food at reasonable prices. This is necessary background information to understand how on this particular morning we ended up inside what had been a “HoJo’s” restaurant turned into a Chinese restaurant – but still serving breakfasts.


We were seated upon arrival giving us a false positive sense of what then went downhill. There was a lengthy wait for menus, a young waitress who spoke little English, and a room filling up. We probably should have taken an exit cue at that point but it was about 9:30 a.m., we would have had to search for a different place and we were all ready for the “most important meal of the day.”


Those who ordered coffee waited and waited – it’s never good to make patrons wait for their morning ‘joe’. Juices were brought warm and intermittently. Meanwhile, what should have been hot meals arrived barely lukewarm and also intermittently. Buttermilk pancakes eagerly anticipated, arrived in miniature size clearly not meant for a man’s appetite. The rest of our party waited another ten minutes for the next meal to be served, then another ten, and so on as meals trickled out. When the waitress did deliver the food – you guessed it – the orders were wrong but she would quickly disappear and not so quickly come back with accurate orders.


None of us wanted to take away from the light, happy time we had been having – not to mention being in a bit of disbelief, so we decided to look at the experience as a comedy of errors. Then the check arrived. Not only did these folks not deliver good service but the check was wrong. We were given a check that was off – in their favor- by several dollars. That was the breaking point. Suffice it to say we got the check corrected.


Since that most memorable of breakfasts, my sisters Dixie and Candy and my nephew Mike and I, joined by others, have met for breakfast out. When we do, there are always those moments of missing Mom/Nana and inevitably the conversation turns to “that breakfast” in Boston and the humor of it all.


Breakfast out remains one of my favorite ways to start the day. After all, one never knows what adventure may come with it.