A View From The Front Room: Noontime Diners Focused on Barack Obama’s Inauguration

By Carol McCracken

Cheers, toasts, high fives and thumbs up were as much a part of the menu at the Front Room earlier today as were the signature hamburgers and champagne cocktails that the crowd consumed while riveted to the large screen tv and the inauguration of our 44th president, Barack Obama. (MHN was satisfied with her usual bowl of French Onio Soup and diet soda).

The dozen or so seats at the bar were taken by 11:30 a.m. and none became available until around 1:00 p.m. Obama’s inaugauration was the centerpiece of the day. Following the memorable rendition of “My Country Is Of Thee” by the legendary singer Aretha Franklin, tears welled up in the eyes of some of the bar patrons and remained there. Mattie Grenney, visiting Hill friends, said: “He represents more people rather than just a class of people or white people.”

“I don’t care if you have water glasses or martini glasses, but I ask you to raise them in a toast to hope for the future at the end of the worst presidency in U.S. history,” said Ray as he turned around to face patrons sitting at the crowded tables around him. Meanwhile, his 2 month old son, Miles, watching from his special seat flashed a smile at his dad’s toast. (Miles mother is a local M.D. and Ray has child-care duty). Alyce Bauerle, of Peaks Island responded: “The Fuhrer is gone. We’ve been waiting for 40 years for this day.” At another table near Alyce’s and her lunchmate, Carol, were the Rolands.

“I wish my parents could be here. How thrilled they would be,” said Frances Roland, 77. Her father was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the Farm Securities Administration in Washington, D.C. Frances and her family lived in the outskirts of the District for about 21 years. It was a poignant lunch for Frances and her husband Dewey.

Hill resident and owner of the Front Room, Harding Smith said he’d voted for Obama. Harding was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of Obama at the bar – cheering, toasting, high fives and thumbs up to those around him. His finance Darcy said when they walked into the restaurant and saw the crowd cheering, toasting and high fiving each other “it was fun to see.”

By the way, Smith confirmed that by spring he will be opening up another restaurant in the Old Port – the Corner Room. It will be affordable and casual and the food will be Italian inspired. It will also be his third restaurant in the area. Harding also owns the Grill Room in the Old Port.