The Sugar Bowl
Darien’s last luncheonette stands the test of time
Owner Bob Mazza has just decorated the place for St. Patrick’s Day, kind of a big deal as his mother, The Sugar Bowl’s original owner Edna Shannon Mazza, was Irish.
“We took down Valentine’s Day on Friday night,” says Bob. “It took 6 of us 2 and a half hours to put up St. Patrick’s Day and we thought that was pretty fast.”
If you haven’t seen the inside of The Sugar Bowl, maybe this seems like a long time, but Mazza doesn’t skimp on décor. He always has something up and changes the theme 8 times a year. Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving have the most items, but Bob professes a fondness for Valentine’s Day over all. The decorations are stored at two friend’s houses, one in Rowayton and one in Darien.
“I used to have everything at one house,” says Bob. “But I’ve been able to purchase more for each holiday since there are only 4 holidays at each house. I’ve told my friends they can’t go anywhere until I retire, I need a place to store all of this stuff.”
So how did this luncheonette outlast the other 8 that Darien was once home to? Partially it’s the dedication of the owners. Bob’s mother bought the place in 1959 and Bob came on the scene in 1977, leaving a job as a buyer at Bergdorf Goodman to help his ailing mother. When she died suddenly Bob decided to stay on, though he jokes about a closet full of suits he now has no need for.
If you sit at the counter, originally an ice cream counter at Grieb’s just a few doors down that was moved here decades ago, and pay attention you’ll notice that Bob is just where he should be. He notices a customer leaving with a bit of coffee still in his mug and calls out to him, by name, to see if he’d like to take a “roadie,” a to-go cup. He makes a mouse shaped pancake, with a face, for a child having breakfast before school and somehow elicits the fact that one of his old-timers weighed 11 pounds at birth, all while keeping your cup full and the tables turning over.
The food also keeps diners coming back. The most popular breakfasts at the moment are the egg white special (egg whites or Egg Beaters with spinach and feta) and the chorizo, vegetable and cheese omelet, though the huevos rancheros are gaining popularity. For St. Patrick’s Day there was corned beef and cabbage served all week and homemade soda bread to take home that Bob can barely keep in stock, baked by one long-time employee.
Most of the employees are long-time employees here. Many have worked at The Sugar Bowl for 10 years or more.
“I’m good to them,” says Bob. “And they’re good to me.”
The same could be said of The Sugar Bowl and the town of Darien.
The Sugar Bowl of Darien
1033 Boston Post Road, Darien; (203) 655-1259