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More Recollections of Binole’s Restaurant

August 14, 2019


More Recollections of Binole’s Restaurant


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



Are you wondering why I am writing in August these blog posts of last week and this week concerning Binole’s Restaurant?  I was thinking of my Aunt Zita’s taking off two or more weeks each August; thus, the Italian restaurant was closed for a summer vacation.  Additionally, my aunt’s restaurant was closed each Sunday and Monday.  Although her general hours of serving were from five o’clock to ten o’clock in the evening, the hours were frequently extended on Friday and Saturday nights.


Arising relatively early, Aunt Zita and her mother-in-law worked throughout most of the day with preparations for the serving of patrons that evening.  While Aunt Zita made her rich spaghetti sauce and meat balls in large quantities and breaded the veal in advance, she also had to drive to various locations in Clinton (seven miles away) and Terre Haute (25 miles away) to do her shopping.  Aunt Zita completed many errands on Mondays–her “day off.”  Additionally, she had to wash the tablecloths and iron them (by using a Mangle (which I described in a previous blog post).  Taking reservations over the phone and placing a note on each reserved table for the waitresses who would arrive around four o’clock were among her other duties.  When I spent the day with my aunt, I liked to go around the restaurant and read the names on the reservation slips.  Many times, I accompanied my aunt on her shopping trips.  As a child, I wondered why my Aunt Zita took a nap most afternoons–after early preparations and errands and before the late preparations.  In later years, I began to understand the long hours which my aunt worked.  Since we all grew to have an understanding of the long hours of work to maintain a successful restaurant, no one else in the family went on with the business after Aunt Zita’s retirement.


Last week’s blog post gave you a verbal tour of the largest room of the restaurant, so this week I will continue with the verbal tour by beginning in front of the restaurant.  A patron would take one step up to the cement porch that spanned the front of the restaurant building.  On the west side of the building was a sidewalk which was parallel with Indiana Highway 71 and led to the parking lot.  Directly against the east side of the building was another sidewalk, to the east of which was a maple tree, a strip of lawn, a water pump, Aunt Zita’s beautiful tulip garden (including tulips of various colors and varieties).  A lawn expanded farther to the east with a clothesline; next along the sidewalk came the women’s outhouse.  At the end of this sidewalk was the men’s outhouse.  From the back of the restaurant to the garage was a parking lot with crushed white rock; between the east end of the parking lot and the east sidewalk was another maple tree.  Aunt Zita and Uncle Bill also owned the lot (kept as a lawn) which was north of the garage.


Beneath the large front windows were red bricks; however, white siding covered the remainder of the building.  Returning to the facade, a customer stepped from the ample porch to the stoop to enter through one of the two doors.  The left door led to the main room (bar room) while the right door opened to the hallway for the family rooms.

After entering the door to the family rooms, Room #3 was to the right; this room, with the most windows, was the brightest of the three rooms.  The view from these windows included the trees and hills of Blanford Park.  This room contained at least five tables of varying sizes.


In the later years of my aunt’s operating the restaurant, Room #2 and Room#1 became one very large room when the one wall was removed.  Around the time of this remodeling, Binole’s Restaurant became the first business in Blanford to have air conditioning.  No central air–window-type air conditioners!


Near the end of this long hallway and on the left was the opening to the bar room (described in my post of August 7).    At the end of this hallway and through a vinyl folding door was the “second” kitchen.  To the right was a long counter where “Mrs. Binole” (the mother-in-law of my aunt) prepared and plated the salads into wooden-like bowls.  A work table with an enamel top jutted against the counter.  At the east side of this kitchen was an exit door and window, under which was an automatic dishwasher of an older vintage.  On busy Saturday nights, my cousin Carole, my sister, and I sometimes helped by drying dishes in this warm or hot room.  On the north wall was another counter and then a large gas stove/oven.  Storage shelves and cabinets, as well as a huge refrigerator were against the west wall.  With the stainless steel refrigerator to the left and the stove to the right, one proceeded next through the doorway to the first or “main” kitchen.


In the main kitchen, another refrigerator and an electric stove were at the left while on the right were the end of the larger gas stove/oven and a work table.  Straight ahead was a step to the family’s residence.  To the left of this step was a hutch and refrigerator; to the right were the white kitchen cabinets, at the near end of which was a large coffeemaker.  On this counter of the cabinets, various people set up the trays for the waitresses.  At times, on busy Saturday nights, my cousin Carole and I enjoyed setting up the trays.  My sister not only recalls setting up trays, but also dusting the floors.  Of course, what we did was minimal compared to the hours and variety of work done by Aunt Zita’s two sons, Bill and Donald.


At the far right end of the cabinets was another exit door, through which people entered for carry-out food.  Besides this door, the east wall had large windows, in front of which was the “kitchen” table.  Along the south wall of this main kitchen, one found a counter, sink, third work table, and the larger gas stove/oven, where so often I saw my Aunt Zita placing the dry spaghetti into the pot of boiling water.  Also atop this stove were huge iron skillets for frying the Italian breaded veal.  First, the butter, shortening, and garlic went into the iron skillet; then, the veal was set to fry.  Amazingly, both my aunt and mother gracefully maneuvered the very heavy iron skillets from the top of the stove into the lower oven and later removed the skillets from the oven.  What strength they had to move these skillets numerous times during just one evening of work!


Throughout the years of running the restaurant, my Aunt Zita was blessed with very good employees.  The four waitresses whom I most remember are Julia Marietta (who worked each night and for the most number of years), JoAnne Peperak (who was so cheery and energetic), Audrey Marietta (who was so very nice and caring), and my Aunt Theda (whose laughter was frequently heard from her sharing of jokes with customers).  Mary Santrach and Julia Procarione, a dear friend of my paternal grandmother, were other employees.  During the day, Hyla Lewis sometimes worked for my aunt.


My aunt and her employees never ate supper until after all of the customers had been served and left.  Numerous times, when I went to the restaurant late, I found Julie Marietta, Mrs. Binole, and Aunt Zita sitting around the kitchen table.  All of them were eating the spaghetti, veal, and salad.  Aunt Zita was not drinking any of her wine:  she always ended the night with a bottle of Schlitz beer.


I really have no idea of what my Aunt Zita’s daily, weekly, or other schedule was:  I only know that with her calm demeanor, all that needed to get done, did.  No matter how busy the restaurant was, all patrons enjoyed the delicious food and warm atmosphere.


From my Aunt Zita and this restaurant business, I learned many life lessons and am so grateful for them, as well as all of the wonderful food, a place filled with family memories, and a dear aunt.


Hoping you are treasuring your family memories,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


August 14, 2019, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Susan M McKendry permalink

    Alice–your memory of all these details is incredible. I also like that you include the mention of the type if appliances–air conditioning, both gas and electricity, etc. I am sure that growing up with the role models of your aunt, parents, and other relatives is what made you the independent and capable woman you are today. Please give Leader Dog Willow a nice pet and thank her again for subbing for you.


    • Sue–Willow thanks you and wants you to know that she is working on some ideas for future blog posts–dog posts.  Since I thought I had overdone the details, I do appreciate your comments.  I could have written at least a couple of stories about each room and added even more detail, but 1406 words was way more than enough. I think I mostly wrote this word picture for myself–for my own memory album of family history.

          On a separate note, I cannot imagine how the violet plant could be more beautiful and lush!  Thanks so much!

      Enjoy these final weeks of summer!

      Alice and Willow

  2. Dear Alice,
    Thank you for continuing the detailed description of Binole’s Restaurant. We spent many happy hours in that building enjoying countless Sunday dinners and Thanksgiving Feasts. I also remember the Italian bagna cauda that we always ate on New Year’s Eve after all the customers had gone home. All the dear employees whose names you mentioned were like family to Aunt Zita and to all of us. We were blessed to be raised in such a loving environment! I appreciate your talent in writing this history of our family.
    Love to you and Willow,

  3. Katherine Binole permalink

    Alice, Read blogs of Binole’s Restaurant to Lisa. She enjoyed and remembered memories of grandma’s restaurant.
    I also enjoyed both blogs. Your detailed memories are amazing! But, you did miss one employee, ME. I helped Wanda Malag wash dishes every Saturday night my senior year,1955. It was the only way Bill and I could be together on Saturday night. He helped grandma Binole with salads in same kitchen so we could be together. Hot, hard work but also lots of fun with everyone. I also remember being hired for $3.00 a day to clean living area and restaurant area. Bill and Don would follow me around and tease me. Bill’s dad would get after all three of us.

    B.J., Lisa and I discussed and remembered happy memories of holiday and Sunday dinners before moving to Jersey. We all missed the large family gatherings at Binole’s. Love, Aunt Kathy

    • Hi, Aunt Kathy–I am very glad to have your recollections from before your wedding in 1956–the year when my remembrances better click into mind.  I knew that at least one other person should have been mentioned as well in regard to washing dishes.  Thank you for noting the name of Wanda Malag whom I now do recall.

          In other blog posts and in my book, I have written about all the family dinners on holidays at the restaurant.  What wonderful times!  I thought I would briefly mention some of these in the second blog; however, with already 1406 words, I had to stop and save more recollections for a future holiday blog post.  I could have written at least a couple of anecdotes about each room that I described.  That restaurant wasand still is a storehouse of memories–most of which of the very happy variety.

          I can certainly imagine Bill and Donald teasing you as you worked:  the two brothers were well experienced in the teasing department.  How we do miss them!

      Hoping you and Lisa have an especially nice day and visit!

      Love, Alice and Willow

  4. Carole permalink

    Thanks for the memories, Alice! All of your sharp details paint another beautiful picture of our childhood and the time spent with our family in the restaurant!

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