Ferriday mainstay to stop serving meals Saturday

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2000

FERRIDAY, La. — When Steve Gray was in high school, he and friends would stop by Brocato’s Restaurant to drink milk and eat fresh honey buns with butter before school.

In the 20 years since then, he has stopped by almost every day to enjoy the homestyle buffet — &uot;the pork backbone is my favorite,&uot;&160;said Gray — and burgers and fresh tea.

&uot;Plus, there are a lot of good people there … and the talk is great,&uot; Gray added. &uot;You can always find out what’s going on at Brocato’s.&uot;

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But on Saturday, the 51-year-old Ferriday mainstay is closing its doors, said owner Gloria Martello, daughter of restaurant founder Frank Brocato. For starters, business declined considerably after the recall of video poker machines in Concordia Parish last summer and a boil water notice that was in effect for Ferriday for 124 days last fall, Martello said.

&uot;People saw us carry water from the National Guard tanks across the street during the boil notice, so they knew we weren’t using town water, but I guess they didn’t want to take a chance,&uot;&160;said Martello, who is suing the town and its engineers over the water crisis.

Martello also wants to take more time out to care for her mother.

For Frank Whittington, a customer since about 1955, the coconut and lemon icebox pie and coffee at Brocato’s will be greatly missed.

&uot;They’ve had good food, good service and good home crowd every since I&160;can remember,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;I just hate to see it go.&uot;

For Richard White — who has frequented Brocato’s ever since Gloria, then a high schooler, was a cashier there — the homestyle vegetables were the highlight of the buffet.

That, and the regulars and employees he sees there nearly every day, have kept White, now 66, coming back to the diner ever since he was just out of high school. &uot;It’s a good place to go and drink coffee, too, a kind of gathering place,&uot; White said. &uot;I&160;hate to see an old place like this close. Hopefully, they’ll work out something to where they can stay open.&uot;

On Saturday a crowd of regulars — local business owners and residents, truck drivers and farmers — are going to enjoy one more meal at Brocato’s. Martello’s son Vince is even supposed to drive from Monroe to be there.

&uot;It was a great place to shoot the bull,&uot;&160;Tommy Lowry said. &uot;The people there, they’re like part of my family. I’m going to miss ’em.&uot;