By Maria Saporta
Sometimes restaurants become friends of the family.
So when one of those restaurants goes out of business, it closes a chapter of memories.
That’s the way it is with the Old Spaghetti Factory on Ponce de Leon Avenue.
Yesterday, I got a call from my best friend, Francie, saying that the Spaghetti Factory was going to closing its doors at the end of the week.
It just so happens that her children’s grandparents — Joyce and Candler Lasseter — have been going to the Spaghetti Factory every week for years.
Back when my children were younger and my parents were still living, the Old Spaghetti Factory also was one of our regular haunts.
Maybe it was the chandeliers or maybe it was the reconstructed “Atlanta Streetcar” in the middle of the main dining room. Or maybe it was the fixed price menu that included a salad, tea or soda, a pasta entré, bread and ice cream all for about $10. Or maybe it was because Carmen and David loved the Spinach tortellini with Alfredo sauce. Or maybe it was the Shirley Temples served in souvenir glasses.
Whatever the reason, the Old Spaghetti Factory made my children feel as though we were going out to a special place for dinner.
As soon as Francie called, I called Carmen and David to break the news to them. Immediately, they said that’s where they wanted to go to dinner.
As we were waiting to be seated, we saw the posted notice announcing that after more than 20 years, the Old Spaghetti Factory in Atlanta would be closing on Sunday.
Employees got the news over the weekend. They were told that business was off — especially on weekdays, and the owners of the national chain had decided to close the Atlanta location.
Our good-bye dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory brought back echoes of the many times we had gathered at the restaurant. My parents would invite close friends, including the late Joe Amisano and his family, Narayan Sengupta, his wife, children, his mother, his father and step-mother.
One of my favorite memories was when my mother, my kids and I decided to have dinner inside the streetcar. Mama was in a playful mood.
When the waitress came up to take our drink order, Mama started asking her what time our train was going to leave. The waitress played along. So when Mama asked her what time we were going to reach our destination, the waitress said we were running a few minutes late.
The memories of past meals remind me how many close friends and family members have passed on.
Here we are in 2010. And this time, it’s the Old Spaghetti Factory that has reached the end of the line.
Good-bye old friend.