Gladys Is Gone, And One City Restaurant Is A Bit Less Spicy
April 5, 2006
By ELIZABETH HAMILTON, Courant Staff Writer
No one was sitting in Booth 1 at Timothy's Restaurant in Hartford Tuesday. The green leather seat remained empty all day, despite the reserved sign on top of the scarred wooden table.
That was Gladys Moore's table, you see.
And Gladys Moore - a waitress at Timothy's for decades - died Monday at 80.
Moore was no mere waitress, though. She was a cut-up, a great-grandmother, an expert cake-froster, a friend, and -
after declining health prevented her from officially working at Timothy's - she occupied the first booth every day from 1:30 p.m. to closing, sipping her Diet Coke, wrapping silverware in paper napkins, hopping up to help wait tables if the night waitress was late and chatting with regulars.
Gladys Moore was an institution in the Zion Street neighborhood where she lived for more than 50 years. And while it may be true that Timothy's gave her a purpose, it's also true that she gave Timothy's a personality.
"She was feisty, full of life," said Timothy Otte, the restaurant's owner. "If you were sitting here and said `Why isn't my food ready yet?' she'd say, `It's not made in cans, you know.'"
No apologies, no worries about her tip. Just straight-up Gladys, delivered with a smile and snapping blue eyes.
Otte inherited Moore when he bought the restaurant on the corner of Zion and Bonner streets 32 years ago; she started working there back when it was still Marion's Luncheonette. Over the years, she did everything from washing dishes to working the grill, but she had the kind of personality that was particularly suited to waitressing.
"Gladys would often know what you wanted before you ordered it," Bob Gorman, a Hartford attorney who has been a regular at Timothy's for 18 years, said during lunch Tuesday. "She was sincerely interested in what you had to say. When she asked a question, she clearly cared about the answer."
Dentist Robert Mailloux, who has been eating at Timothy's for more than 20 years, said he associated Moore with the
Behind the Rocks neighborhood near Trinity College, where the restaurant is located.
"She was a wonderful person," Mailloux said. "I'm going to miss her."
Otte and his staff, who consider themselves to be Moore's second family, were truly grieving Tuesday.
The reserved sign on Moore's table has been there, off and on, for two weeks, because the night cook, Willis Knight, couldn't bear to see anyone sit there while Moore was in the hospital, waitress Felicita DeJesus said.
Moore had a pacemaker for her heart, but a variety of health problems were assailing her toward the end of her life, her friends said. She'd lost a great deal of weight recently and looked frail, but no one at Timothy's thought her illness was life-threatening.
"We weren't expecting it, because the will to live was so great," DeJesus said.
DeJesus, who has worked at Timothy's for 10 years, said she and the other wait staff didn't dare frost Timothy's famous Black Magic Cake, or any other cake for that matter, if they thought Moore might be coming down from her apartment over the restaurant that day.
Moore's routine rarely varied. She sat in her booth with her back to the door and, after she ate her soup, "she'd wrap her silverware and frost her cake and tell us all what to do," DeJesus said.
And they adored her.
"She was loved and she loved, I'll tell you," DeJesus said. "We couldn't be open without her."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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