Wayback Machine – Who Remembers Rocky Neck Steak and Lobster House?

This is Dan and Robin Smith from Missouri.  They stopped into the gallery and we got talking.  In 1975 when Dan was 20 years old, he and his buddy, Rick Good, waited tables at the Rocky Neck Steak and Lobster House.  It was owned by Mr. Gledhill and was located where the Madfish Grille is now.  Dan says he still has his Rocky Neck Steak and Lobster House T-shirt!  They stayed at the old Rockaway Hotel when they first arrived until they got situated, and he said most everyone who worked at the restaurant stayed at The Accommodations.  Dan became a sailor due to his experience of a summer in Gloucester in 1975, and he still returns here regularly.   Now he’ll hopefully become a subscriber to Good Morning Gloucester too.

E.J. Lefavour



  • Goodness! Makes me wonder how many of us Missourians do the long trek to Cape Ann. (Of course, the reasons for doing so are obvious to us!) The steak & lobster house was a little before our visits, I guess, because I don’t remember it. Glad they made it in before you closed for the season.


  • Was it called Finnerty’s?


  • Before RN Steak & Lobster House- anyone remember that it was Finnerty’s?


  • Rocky Neck Lobster and Steak House (formerly Finnerty’s Lobster House.) I worked there one summer as a line cook – that probably was 1968 or ’69. At that time, a Mr. Gledhill worked there, but was not the owner. It was a pretty busy place. I lived at home, so the restaurant didn’t need to supply accommodations for me, but I know that lots of others stayed in lofts, etc., on and around the property on Rocky Neck.


  • Them were the good ole days. A little before Dan Smith’s time we lived nearby when the Steak and Lobster House was thriving. (In the mid sixties.) It was owned by Gerry Finnerty, whose main enterprise was Finnerty’s Country Squire in Cochituate, and it catered to a somewhat more mature clientele than some of the later tenants.

    Those were the days when Evie Parsons was in her prime next door at at the Rudder, and I’ll tell you that was the place to be in the wee hours on weekend nights. The music really got going there after closing time.

    Flanking Finnerty’s on the other side Russell Grinnell had a dock building business and he restored the historic schooner Pioneer for use in that enterprise. Pioneer, an iron boat, not steel, is now at South Street Seaport in New York.

    Across Smith Cove lived the Phyllis A, gill netting on a regular basis. I set a mooring for Green Dragon right off her dock in the cove between Phyllis A and Finnerty’s.

    Al Bezanson


    • Mid-60’s would sound about right. The summer I worked there was either the first or second season after the Finnerty’s had sold it. I always got the feeling that management of the place was a bit disjointed – it didn’t have the cohesive feeling that it did when the Finnerty’s ran it.

      Extra credit: Who was the very famous singer who hung around at the Rudder at least part of every summer?

      Tim Holloran


  • That singer passed away in 1969 and not long before that she was seen from time to time with her old friend Evie at the Rudder.


  • There were no floating docks off the Rudder back then, so at high tide you could sidle right up to the railing on the porch, although Evie didn’t exactly advocate that as I recall. One time when there was a nice easterly blowing we got a sudden urge for a beer and headed for the porch, wing and wing, to the consternation of the diners. There was barely enough space in there for us to round up, but we managed it just in time, then drifted back, nestled alongside, climbed over the railing, and had a beer, maybe two. I think we might have done that a couple times before she outlawed it.


  • It’s nice to see that this post has generated so much nostalgia. Wish I’d been here back then – it sounds like great times.


  • Of course, the Steak House always had a dock out front for boats to tie up. My family would go there once or twice every summer, and the waiters would come right out on the dock and deliver your food to the boat. The Studio did the same thing (not sure who was first.) Another little feature that Finnerty had was a platform boat that was made up to look somewhat like a Mississippi river boat – I think the name of it was “Dixie Belle.” They would take diners for little cruises thru the inner harbor before or after dinner at the Lobster House. I always thought getting the job running that thing would have been great!


  • Dixie Belle was around for quite some time after Finnerty departed I believe.

    When we moved from Rocky Neck we landed about a dozen miles from his Country Squire in Cochituate. It was a very good restaurant – comfortable in the old way, and we dined there quite often over the years. All this recollecting got me in the mood to head over there tonight, but Mrs. said we ought to check up on them, and alas, Finnerty’s is gone.

    Back in the 60’s a couple of my friends who lived at Beacon Marine had an antique Palmer launch, “Chugger”. They would sometimes put-put over to Finnerty’s for a beer or two, but the Palmer would not always start for the return trip. No problem — just keep spinning the flywheel (as we did to start it.) It was direct drive and they could make it back to the Beacon by spinning the flywheel all the way. I say no problem, but it was quite a feat to spin that engine.


    • Sounds like one of the old Palmer “make-and-break” engines! THERE’s a piece of marine history. In all the boats we had over the years, my father always insisted it have a Palmer engine for some reason, and it always had to be gasoline, because he hated the smell of diesel exhaust LOL.

      It wasn’t all that long after I worked that summer at the Rocky Neck Lobster house that I moved out of Gloucester as a year-round resident. Funny thing was, for 5 years I commuted back every morning when I worked at Varian. Not being in town makes you start to loose sight of the details – like the Dixie Belle. I’m sure I may have seen it once or twice more, but it didn’t really register with me.


  • That Palmer was a 1906 I believe. An ordinary person would not have had the strength and stamina to spin that engine all the way across Smith Cove back to the Beacon, but neither of Chugger’s former owners are ordinary. It may have helped that they fueled themselves at the Lobster House and/or Rudder.

    I think Dixie Belle was still around in recent times but I am of an age where past events seem to get compressed. Nowadays in Rocky Neck we have Tide Skipper — a salty little vessel if I ever saw one. He doesn’t carry passengers but will take on most any sort of odd job I am told.


  • My great aunt and Grandfather used to own and run a restaurant at the site of Finnerty’s lobster house called Tiffen before World War II. They were doing well until wartime gas rationing killed the business and they had to sell out to Mr. Finerty who had a string of Steak and Lobster houses. Anybody remember Tiffen?
    Dana Basney
    San Diego Ca


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