Crosti’s Grove

There have been a lot of restaurants in Ashland over the years. Most have either survived by changing hands, “re-inventing” themselves with new names and owners, or simply faded into history. Many remember Carlo’s, the “88,” the “99,” Marconi’s, Wally’s, Mickey’s, and The Riverside Club. I’m sure there were plenty more, and I will be quickly reminded by veteran Ashlanders in short time, trust me. Anyway, let’s spend some time on Pleasant Street. We have visited the Cricket Lounge and Burnham’s Supper House, but I would like to take a step back in time. How about the turn of the 19th century? Many people immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s – early 1900s, and some settled in Boston and the surrounding areas. The families we are visiting have familiar names today. Perini, Tognoli, Alberini, and Giargiari. The lost restaurant for today’s story is Crosti’s Grove.

So who was Crosti? Crosti was Battista Crosti Tognoli. He married Angelina Alberini, and originally settled in Boston. Bonfiglio Perini, who was related by marriage, moved west to Ashland. Perini liked the area and urged Crosti to move to Ashland, which he did. He purchased a house and barn across from the Perini home on Pleasant St. The date is 1920, and prohibition was in force. The barn, it was said, was used for “purposes other than originally intended” if you catch my meaning, but prohibition was eventually repealed in 1933. With the revenuers gone, Perini suggested to Crosti that the barn should be remodeled to serve as a restaurant and lounge. In short time, Crosti’s Grove was born.

It took a while for Crosti’s to become successful. Crosti spoke only Italian, and with the language barrier it became apparent that an English speaking member of the family needed to take over the business. Crosti’s only daughter, Ida, along with her son Hugo Giargiari took over the reins in 1935. As business improved, Ida purchased the adjoining property to make room for expansion. She bought the Crocker residence adjacent to Crosti’s which included three acres of land. Bowling alleys were added to Crosti’s Grove, and Hugo and his brother Amando moved into the Crocker residence. Hugo worked as manager until 1948 at which time he left the business to purchase Framingham Liquors. Amando, along with his brother Nesti, took over the operation of Crosti’s. Automatic pin setting machines were added to the bowling alley in the ’50s, and the restaurant’s bill of fare was second to none in the area. It was said that you couldn’t find a seat after 8 o’clock on any given night. They also provided live entertainment. Hugo’s wife Helen was a featured singer and patrons came from all over to see her performances.

But as we have seen before, all great places have their moment in the sun, and eventually fade away. By the late ’50s and early ’60s, Route 9 soon became the draw for entertainment with the likes of the Chateau de Ville, the Meadows, and Shoppers World. People left cozy Ashland for brighter lights. Crosti’s Grove eventually closed, later to become the Cricket Lounge which offered a different genre of entertainment. The Cricket also closed, and the site is now the parking lot for the MBTA. The Crocker house that was home to the Giargiaris later became Burnam’s Manor in 1968, and after the death of Amando Giargiari, passed on to his son Danny.

Close inspection of the photo accompanying today’s story shows Crosti’s offering daily lunch specials starting September 22nd.

Are we too late?

Steve Leacu for Ashland Directions
November 2013