Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sign of the Times: Ma Glockner's Closes in Bellingham, MA


Article and Photo by Eric H., at VisitingNewEngland.com


When I heard the news, my heart sank: Ma Glockner's, a family dining tradition in Bellingham, MA, since 1937, closed its sunny, welcoming doors due to the sagging economy.

Best known for its delicious par-boiled, then grilled berched chicken and homemade cinnamon buns, we always enjoyed Ma Glockner's as a friendly place that seemed stuck in time. Ma Glockner's featured large, carpeted dining rooms, wood paneling, waitresses with lots of jewelry and perfume who said what they felt, and prices that everyone could afford. Adults were always treated well there, and kids even better. The slightly worn white-painted "house" with green and white window awnings and the cheesy chicken illustration on the traditional black and gold "Since 1937" sign out front offered further validation that Ma Glockner's wasn't in business to impress trendy, dining snobs. If you wanted hand-rubbed this and garlic-infused that and waiters that acted more like investment bankers, Ma Glockner's wasn't your place. In fact, Ma Glockner's idea of reflecting 21st century dining preferences was introducing panini sandwiches on the menu.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the cinnamon buns, I always looked forward to eating at Ma Glockner's for the berched chicken. Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside and with the right amount of seasonings, what more you ask for in a chicken dinner? I knew of no other place with this type of chicken, so I suppose it's time to try attempting this recipe in the kitchen, although the final result will probably fall under the cliched category of "often imitated but never duplicated."

Ma Glockner's ultimately appealed to hard-working, middle-class families. Since so many hard-working, middle class families are leaving Massachusetts in droves -- or who live here and can't afford to dine out -- Ma Glockner's undeservedly fell victim to our troubled, economic times. Like its customers, Ma Glockner's reflected trying to live the American Dream in the wrong state at the wrong time. The same thing happened recently to the Cocke 'N Kettle in Uxbridge, MA another traditional restaurant (in a revolutionary war-era building) that always seemed to have enough customers, but just couldn't survive the U.S. economy and its economic toxic carrier, Massachusetts. It seems like Massachusetts is becoming a state of the "haves" and "have nots," and, unfortunately, Ma Glockner's reflected the latter.

Many more families are indeed "dining in" or eating at fast food chains to save money, thus, taking away business from beloved restaurants like Ma Glockner's. It's a sad day when a restaurant so loved by your grandparents, parents and our new generation families goes away and, possibly, never returns. We have seen other restaurants turn into parking lots, industrial and office buildings and new, faceless homes. Our hope is that a restaurateur who cares deeply about institutions like Ma Glockner's will lovingly reopen this dining spot with everything intact -- including the berched chicken and homemade cinnamon buns. If they ever do, we'll be the first customers to open those sunny, welcoming doors and support this longtime, quality local restaurant.
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