One reader mourns the impending loss of one of Bristol's favorite eateries.
To the editor:
I find it very sad and ironic that the late, great Tweet Balzano’s old restaurant is being torn down on the week of the 27th anniversary of his passing.
I have asked the paper to re-print my eulogy to Tweet for those who knew him and loved him and more importantly, for those who did not know this family man, war hero, and successful businessman whose generosity I saw on a daily basis. I have been in food service for over 60 years and have never had a tougher boss than Tweet. Or a better one!
The following was written by this author on March 7, 1996:
A diamond in the rough
There is a restaurant on Cape Cod called “Lobster in the Rough” whose atmosphere is less than elegant but whose good food and good prices grew crowds. I often thought a similar title would apply to the Balzono’s Family Restaurant, but everyone always just called it “Tweets”, and rightly so, because Anthony “Tweet” Balzano, and he alone, was “Tweets”.
He was a “diamond in the rough”, he was unique, one of a kind, an American original, a Rhode Island icon, and a Bristol institution. In his heyday the Bristol Fourth of July Parade seemed to end at his door.
By his own admission, Tweet was not a very good students, but more students worked for Tweet than anyone else in Bristol. Even some of his teachers worked for him.
Tweet was not what you would call politically correct, yet politicians sought out his support and more than one town administrator worked for him.
Tweet’s greatest love was his family, who now begin a new era and will carry on his proud tradition that was passed down to Tweet from his father. But it was Tweet who took that chicken coop that was a club and turned it into a Rhode Island landmark, and it was Tweet who brought many members of his vast family to work for him.
Family, students, politicians, housewives — they all worked for him, but some did not last very long, and to them the old saying applies, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Well, at Balzano’s Cafe, Tweet was the heat, and from where I stood, for more years than most, the hotter the better. But Tweet did not have to be in the kitchen, his presence at that first booth was enough to make things run smooth. But it he was needed, all you had to do was yell “Tweet”, and hand him a knife and he’d open littlenecks faster than most men with two good hands. And that left hand, wounded in World War II, seemed made to hold a spaghetti fork and no one could make one ladle of sauce cover a pound of pasta and make it look like two pounds better than Tweet.
Tweet’s gregarious style was overshadowed only by his generosity. There was many a night it seemed he gave away as much food as he sold. Tweet gave true meaning to the term, “bark is worse than his bite”. One night, three young kids climbed out the men’s room window to avoid paying their check, but were discovered before they reached their car and ran off on foot. The next day they returned to pay their bill and face the heat, only to have Tweet forgive them and buy them lunch.
When I first heard the name Tweet, I laughed. I did not grow up around Tweet’s, like many of you, but I did grow a little older there and the name Tweet seemed normal when blended with names like Nutsie, Crow, Nella, Porky, Balzy, Spud, The Count, Shike, and Kool Kat! And it was at Tweets that I met and married a girl named Poo.
There was a song that Tweet would often sing that went “Up in the morning work like the devil for my pay, but that lucky old sun got nothing to do but lie around heaven all day.”
Well, sun, move over, because it just got hotter!
Miss you Tweet, God Bless.
11 Kenny Drive