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Remembering Charlie's Chicken Hut

For long time residents that title conjures up a mental picture of a large, probably cement, chicken sitting on a "nest" on a hillock in front of 3500 East Avenue. The name is no longer the same - it has changed from Charlie's to Maplewood Inn to Hawthorne's. Now, you more recent residents know where it is on East Avenue just slightly past St. John Fisher College.

Mrs. Emma Alverson and her son, Charlie, lived in a two story house nestled beneath tall maple trees just off East Avenue and very near Stop #7 on the Trolley line. Mrs. Alverson operated a milk and doughnut stand to the trolley travelers. During the years of 1902 to 1924, there were no county parks and city dwellers would take the trolley to the end of the line and picnic under the lofty maple trees in the area that became known as Maplewood Park. It was a delightful way to spend a sunny, summer afternoon.

Mrs. Alverson soon decided to capture the moment and she and her son began serving chicken dinners on Sunday afternoons. This made for an even greater adventure - a ride, a stroll in the park as well as a fine meal. I have a picture of a young couple seated on the ground next to their motorcycle enjoying a picnic at that very place (I don't know if they were partaking of Mrs. Alverson's dinner!). I also have read and have photos of Sunday School picnics being held there at that park.

Charlie decided to go out on his own and in 1918 brought about Rochester's first hot dog stand. Charlie set up a small stand in front of the house and from it he served delicious hot dogs in rolls with mustard. Seven years later, it became the site of "The Hut", an early fast-food take-out operated by Charles Alverson who owned the tract of land that extended all the way to Linden Avenue. The Hut burned to the ground in 1941, but the main house was saved and with extensive remodeling it became the Maplewood Inn, known for its tasty food.

In the early1950's, Bob Clifford acquired the restaurant and operated it as the Maplewood Inn for about 20 years. From the 1970's to 1998, Pat Mammano managed the restaurant and was famous for his congenial attitude towards his guests. No one left the restaurant without a personal greeting from "the boss". I think he was there 24/7!

The interior of the restaurant, which still serves fine meals, has been dramatically changed by the new owner, Peter Stone. How many readers remember the open rooms divided only by pillars, with a sleek wooden floor just made for dancing? I certainly remember romantic evenings, dancing to favorite hits of the day. There was also an upstairs room that could be reserved for private parties and maybe it is still available - I didn't ask. There was also the porch that could be closed to the public for a special party or celebration. That is still the same today.

While Pittsford and Rochester certainly have a plethora of places in which to dine, not many of them have been around in one way or another, for over 100 years. Interesting isn’t it, how we always need to have a place to eat?!