Op/Ed

Missing Cline’s

HOPE E. TREMBLAY

The region was in an uproar last week when White Hut in West Springfield closed its doors abruptly. It was followed days later by a collective social media sigh of relief when Peter Picknelly and Andy Yee announced a “handshake agreement” with White Hut owners to bring the eatery back.

White Hut is a WestSide staple and a draw from the surrounding communities. My husband grew up in WestSide and was practically devastated when he heard the news. I admit, it wasn’t a place I frequented, but I did enjoy a cheeseburger or two at the Hut.

This makes me think about Westfield restaurants that have closed but were a part of the fabric of the community. The first that comes to mind – particularly during the Lenten season – is Cline’s. The Mechanic Street seafood restaurant was always hopping, but especially on Fridays during Lent. The line of customers would be out the door and down the sidewalk for fish fry Friday. And while I did enjoy the fish and seafood that they were famous for, what I miss most about Cline’s is the cheeseburg chowder.

It was heaven in a bowl.

In my early days at The Westfield News, I would often have lunch at Cline’s with co-workers Martha Sanders and Matt Barron. We went there once or twice each month for lunch, and cheeseburg chowder was always my go-to. It was thick, creamy, meaty – everything you’d want in a cheeseburger chowder.

Now, I will say since Cline’s closed, the Maple Leaf has stepped up its cheeseburg chowder game and is a very close second to Cline’s. And Soup’s On’s version is good, too, but nothing compares to Cline’s. Perhaps Picknelly and Yee can bring it back? Pretty please?

Big Y and North Elm Butcher Block have become the Lenten go-to for fish on Fridays, and they are both doing a delicious job. Yet, I still miss Cline’s.

Other restaurants, such as the Foster House and Points East, were part of the city’s DNA. The Foster House’s New England comfort foods, including Yankee pot roast and shepard’s pie, were among my faves. And nothing beat the Points East green salad with a heaping helping of crabmeat salad piled on top.

Westfield still boasts many fine locally owned restaurants. The Westwood, The Tavern and Shortstop Bar & Grill are family-owned and offer delicious fare. All three are a great place for lunch with co-workers, dinner with a friend or a special date night.

Another Westfield News’ colleague lunch spot was the Farmer’s Daughter. The cream cheese filled pumpkin muffins were perfect any time of day, but my favorite lunch was the tuna almondine on a croissant. The tea house, Amici’s coffee shop and Rain Forest Café were other downtown eateries in the mid-90s that did not survive, but I wish they had.

We are lucky that we have Two Rivers Burrito, The Good Table, Hutghi’s at The Nook, Leo’s, Emma’s, Santiago’s, Janek’s, Yummi Noodle and Alo Saigon downtown.

And drive by Skyline Beer Co. on Southwick Road any day after 3 p.m. and the parking lot is full.We also have breakfast spots – Yankee Village and Santorini’s come to mind – and bakeries such as Mama Cakes, JP’s Totally Baked Goods and It Takes Two. And of course there are Chinese and pizza restaurants throughout the city (Family, Pasquale’s, Gigi’s, Elm Pizza, Pizza Town and more).

Westfield does have delicious, locally owned, “Mom & Pop” style eateries. Let’s make sure we keep them so they don’t go the route of those that came and went before them.

What’s your favorite current Westfield or Southwick restaurant? Which ones do you miss? Send a letter to [email protected]

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