Thanks for the memories
When the Green Lantern closes its doors for the last time tomorrow a piece of Bermudian history will go with it.
And judging by the response to this week’s article that the restaurant is closing, the famous Pembroke eatery will certainly be missed by many in the community.
In business for 70 years, the restaurant was one of the last remaining authentic Bermudian diners where the atmosphere was just as enjoyable as the food itself.
A 1995 article in
The Royal Gazette quoted banker Sheila Dickinson on how she made it her year-long quest to challenge a principal’s edict that students at the Berkeley Institute were not allowed to leave the school premises during lunch period. Her challenge was that the headmaster, FS Furbert, would take his children, also students at the school, to lunch at the Serpentine Road diner.
This indignant student didn’t think that was setting the right example for a policy that didn’t seem fair to the students. Her campaign of civil disobedience was peaceful, if somewhat confrontational, as she showed up at the landmark restaurant in full view of Mr Furbert to order her own lunch. Needless to say, this was not a course of action that went down well.
She returned to the restaurant on a regular basis after school detention to make her point and no doubt enjoy the food.
Willis Dill, who grew up in the area, recalls going there regularly as a youngster with his friends.
“I’ll definitely be going there [this] Friday night,’ he vowed.
“We used to go there all the time. When I heard the news yesterday I started thinking about the beef pies and the fishcakes. I remember way back to when [original owners Cyril and Bernice] Burns used to be there.
“I understand the economic times and all that and I guess most people who grew up around there are a little disappointed that they are closing down, but these are the times we are facing. They have lasted a good number of years. Unfortunately I don’t eat out much like I used to but I am going to eat there on Friday night.
“They need to be commended for staying open for so long. Their menu has changed down through the years but for the most part they seemed to have kept fairly interesting things on their menu. I think most people will probably say ‘I wish I had gone there more often in the last few years’ but most people, when they face hardship, that is one of the first things they do, they stop eating out. They stop doing a lot of things that they consider to be luxuries and eating out can be one of them.”
He added: “This is one of the last family-owned black restaurants from all those years ago. You had Richardson’s and that’s gone, too.”
A number of people who enjoyed the Green Lantern over the years shared their memories with
The Royal Gazette.
Jeff Shaw: “Wow, I lived on Serpentine Road most of my life just a few doors down in both directions from GL over the years. Me and [current owner Andre Woods] use to play together and get into mischief, that includes us walking on a plank over an open cesspit where he fell in and I had to pull him out LOL, remember that buddy, I think I was about eight years old when that happened. As a small kid going to GL for their famous coconut custard pie with my Grandmother you would always be entertained by the ever so vocal Gene Burns and then there was the ever so polite humble Ashley.
“It was probably the only place you could go and get attitude from the likes of Tanya and know it was acceptable and would not deter you from returning for more fish dinners. I wish you well Andre, you have put in your time there since a very young kid helping your family in that business.
“As Kenny Rogers sang, ‘you gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em’. I am sure his reasons for folding ‘em are well justified.”
Sandy McCallum: “Sorry to hear about the closure of the Green Lantern. Way back in the 1970s I worked at the Bermuda Hotel School and my wife worked at the Island Press. We lived at In-a-Way Cottage, Fairylands and we often used to call in at the Green Lantern where we were always made very welcome by Mr Burns and his staff. We recall his great burgers and fried chicken with hot sauce. Would beat KFC by miles! Posters advertising local shows were often stuck on the windows. One that sticks in the mind was for “Little Stevie Wonder amazing boy singer” Wow! Thanks for the memories.” Sandy and Josephine McCallum, now retired at home in Scotland
Bruce McClarron: “Well that’s too bad as the Green Lantern was a local landmark for many working-class “onions” (good fish chowder + fish & chips years ago) ... The BDA economy is definitely upside down and unfortunately more businesses will follow suit!!”
Susan Holland: “Walking home from school and stopping at the Green Lantern to buy French fries for 25 cents. Loaded with ketchup they were yummy.”
Rob Pendleton: “It’s with great sadness that I read that the Green Lantern is closing. As a teenager in the late 60s and early 70s, the Lantern was a great hangout. We would all gather to order Vanilla cokes, hamburgers and fries, and then either eat there, or hurry out, jump on our Mobylettes, and race to our friends houses nearby to inhale it. It was an oasis in the middle of nowhere. It had that friendly diner vibe as you see in the movies with the soda fountain, stools, and friendly wait staff. Part of the store was convenience, i.e. groceries, toiletries and pharmaceuticals.
I have a one of these moments there that I will remember for the rest of my days. Right out of the movie the “The Summer of 42” where the male teenage orders something and then has to order that last essential item (condoms) happened to me at the Lantern. Without missing a beat the girl behind the counter, grabbed a pack of Ramses, held them above her head, and in a (I thought) a very loud voice asked me ‘do you need anything else to go with these?’ As you can imagine, the restaurant was packed and I felt all eyes were on me, blushing and highly embarrassed, I quietly responded “no”, paid and quickly left.
After that day, I returned, the lure of the burgers, fries and vanilla cokes were too much to resist, but above all I will always remember the smile from the girl behind the counter.”