20 June, 2006

The Cove Fish Market, Stonington CT

The Cove is a fish market and takeout place which sits on a shady point of land where a dead-end side street branches off of US1 in Stonington, CT. They've been there longer than I can remember. My family and I have been eating there for about 20 years or so. After a day exploring the Connecticut coastline or roasting on a sunny beach, The Cove was a great place to kick back and enjoy some steamers or fish-and-chips with an ice-cold beer from your own cooler. They make a fine chowder, too - Rhode Island style (clear clam broth - delicious) and the service is always friendly.

But I think last weekend was the last time we'll be eating there. The Cove - like so much of southeastern Connecticut - has changed, and I don't like the changes much.

For one thing, the prices have gone through the roof. Shoreline prices in the summer are always higher than we normally pay; these folks only have a few months to make a living from the tourists that flood the area. But when two orders of fish and chips, a bowl of chowder, and a burger come to $38.50, it's gone beyond "tourist price" and into "tourist trap."

The Cove was always a BYOB place, too. But now they're peddling horsepiss Budweiser and diluted horsepiss Bud Lite. In exchange for all the pretty neon signs, advertising banners, and cafe umbrellas that all shout BUD LITE, The Cove forbids patrons to bring in their beverages of choice. When we were there, I saw the sign by the window where orders are placed (Please Only Beverages From The Cove) and brought our cooler back out to the car. Apparently, it is now Cove policy to have an employee walk around the outdoor dining area and harrass people with Non-Cove beverages. One group of diners, in the middle of a meal that probably ran them around $150, picked up their food and their cooler, told the Beverage Nazi that they'd never be back, and ate their meal sitting in and around their car in the parking lot. I was glad I brought our cooler back to the car because I wasn't in the mood to be bitched at and I wasn't in the mood for the argument that would have ensued.

All in all, it's their establishment and they can run it the way they want. Most people don't seem to mind - the line waiting to order on Sunday didn't seem any shorter than ever - and those of us who do mind are free to go elsewhere. But how many customers like the ones the Beverage Nazi chased off can a seasonal business afford to lose? I hope they sell enough Bud Lite to make up the difference.

So long, Cove. Thanks for pissing away a 20-year relationship.

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