I may be getting overly sentimental in my old age, or maybe it’s just that fat guys are always sad when a restaurant closes, but I miss Seafood & More. For those who were not familiar with it, Seafood & More was a restaurant/takeout place on Main Street in Clinton that closed a while back. It was one of those places that help to give a town personality, and Seafood & More had plenty of personality, along with great fish.

It was the only place of its kind around, and that, along with the quality of the fish, meant that the place was usually pretty busy (and during Lent it was like God was handing out money in there). Now that they are closed, the clintonmass.com message boards are filled with people asking about other places to go, and the other restaurants in the area have rushed to fill the void by advertising takeout fish and chips. I have tried many of them (I love me some fish and chips) and they are good, but Seafood & More was more than fish and chips.

First, there was the variety and quality of the seafood. The scallops, shrimp, haddock, clams, and calamari were always excellent. I would often get a combination plate with haddock and scallops, and my wife would get the shrimp. It was always fresh, there was always plenty of it, and it was reasonably priced.

That’s not to say that I loved everything on their menu. I tried their clam chowder a number of times, and it was always a bit oily for my taste. Their fries were sort of soggy and unsatisfying (but, like bad pizza and bad sex, even soggy fries are pretty good). I tried the chili once, and it tasted like unrefined petroleum, but who orders chili at a seafood place? (My friends often joke that I would buy sushi at a gas station in the middle of the desert)

But, the people in the area either disagreed with me, or, like me, didn’t care about such shortcomings. The seafood was so good that they came from miles around for it.

The busy nature of the place created an atmosphere that could be intimidating at first. The counter area was a bit small, and often crowded. The harried employees, who always looked like they had been working in a crowded blast furnace, tended to shout at one another. There was an edgy humor in the place – the type of edge people develop when they repeatedly succeed under pressure – and when I was waiting for my order to be ready I would enjoy watching them work. They were like the gears of a clock.

Despite the pressure and the heat and the shouting, it must have been a decent place to work, because I saw the same faces year after year.

I also miss the owner, Jim. He had a gruff exterior, but after I had picked up my order and head for the door, he would always look up from what he was doing and thank me for my business. From what I could tell, he did that for everyone, every single time. The first time, he startled me, and I looked at him for a second, stuck for something to say. He smiled and gave me a friendly wave. It was a nice touch.

One cold winter night, the battery in my wife’s car died in his parking lot. I drove over there to jump start her car, but found that I didn’t have any cables. When I went in and asked if he had any jumper cables, he put down what he was doing, came right outside and insisted on giving us a jump start with his truck. How could I buy my fish anywhere else after that? Unfortunately, now I will have to.

When I first heard that the restaurant had closed, I was shocked – it happened suddenly, and if the rumors are to be believed it was not due to any problem with the business itself. I wish I had known. I would have stopped and looked around, taking a minute to appreciate that crazy atmosphere one more time. I would have taken a minute to thank the people there that had given me so much great food over the years.

But, I didn’t know. So, although I don’t remember it specifically, I imagine that on my last visit Jim thanked me for my business, and I told him to take care. Then, when that screen door banged shut behind me for the last time, Clinton was suddenly a less interesting place to live.