Durgin-Park, a sassy classic, at 192. In lieu of flowers, leave a bigger tip

Over time, it became a way station for tourists, celebrities, and local pilgrims seeking an unvarnished taste of old Boston: reasonably priced portions of New England classics served with attitude.

They could sit alongside tourists and families and oddballs, eating pot roast slammed down by women with colorful pasts — everyone from a former fur model who stored pencils in her teased bun to a would-be Salem witch who sprinkled salt over her tables to ward off surly customers.

Longtime waitresses in starched white shirts with buttons reading “Roast Prime Rib of Beef” threw down forks and rumpled napkins, business as usual, despite the customer and media swarm.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” said Kim Lemerise, a 15-year veteran, sliding a bowl of chowder — “we win awards for it” — across the communal table.

And so those employees formed the kinship that only shared experience and circumstance brings: lending money when a colleague needed it, doling out life advice.

Servers recalled that people swore like stevedores, sobbed, got fired and hired again — often after a convivial drink with beloved former owner Martin Kelly.

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