• Hoboken {TBT}: Clam Broth House

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    It’s FINALLY Thursday, aka time for a #HobokenTBT. This week’s historical Hoboken throwback is dedicated to the Clam Broth House Restaurant. You’ve probably seen the hand-shaped sign pointing its finger that says “Clam Broth House” perched atop of the Reign Nightclub — right on the corner of Hudson and Newark near the PATH. 

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    Here’s the backstory: With a history of over 115 years, the Clam Broth House was located on 36-42 Newark Street {now Biggie’s Clam Bar – with a bit of extra space taken over to the corner where Reign is}, having first opened in 1899. At first it was known as Servanti’s Restaurant and was THE spot for Hoboken’s dockworkers in the 1900s. During that pre-feminist era, women were not allowed in the restaurant {ew}. 

    That all changed in the 1970s during the feminist movement, and women were finally granted entry. Servanti’s became Biggie’s Clam Bar {because no one likes a sexist restaurant anyway}, and the sign that we all know and love was hinged on the side of the building.

    According to the Hudson Reporter, every customer that ate at the Clam Broth House in the 60s and 70s would walk into a floor chock full of clam shells from past customers, along with a vat that gave out free clam broth at the bar {yass, FREE!} — but kind of grody if we do say ourselves. 

    That seafood-filled aspect didn’t stop many {although we can only imagine the smell}. The Clam Broth House attracted celebrities from the area, with Marlon Brando being one of the big names who strolled through in his day. He came to the area while filming “On The Waterfront” in town. Frank Sinatra’s mother was a supposed regular at the Clam Broth House as well. The St. Petersburg Times even notes that former President Woodrow Wilson was known to have bid his farewells to the troops from the balcony of the broth house when they were shipped off {along with greeting them upon their return}.

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    Fast forward to May 2003, the Clam Broth House’s reign {this word has a bit of foreshadowing to the 2015 nightclub, eh?} came to an end when city officials closed down the property because of structural issues. During the time it closed down, the judge ordered a stop to the demolition of the building because of its history.

    In 2004, Danny Tattoli and his wife, who were also the owners of Four L’s, purchased the property and its namesake, restoring the fixtures and the seafood-filled menu. The Tattolis experienced a tough time transferring the liquor license, but they eventually opened up their version of the Clam Broth House the following spring.

    Things did not work out with The Clam Broth House and the Tattolis {unfortunately there isn’t much information about this}. The family sold the space to the owners of Biggies, The Ranuros, in 2012.

    Biggie’s was already super popular in Hoboken because comedian Joseph Yaccarino {aka Joe Biggie when on stage} founded the first location on 3rd and Madison in 1946 {which sadly is closing and condensing to its Newark Street [clam broth] location in October}. Biggie founded this locale after he gained his reputation of selling raw clams from pails primarily to the Hoboken dock workers.  Once the place opened, it became the place to go for raw clams.

     When the Ranuros bought it, Michael Ranuro stated that the newest Biggie’s Clam Bar was going to have similar charm as the infamous Clam Broth House, according The Hudson Reporter.

    Well, there you have it. The Biggie’s next door to Reign was formerly one of the most iconic restaurants in Hoboken. Who would have thought that Marlon Brando took a break from filming to eat there or that Frank Sinatra’s mom would be a regular? Pretty cool.

     

    Have an idea for a #HobokenTBT or some vintage photos you’d like to share? Email hello@hobokengirl.com 

     


    Written by:

    Aida is a full-time reporter for the Town News, a part of North Jersey Media Group, and she received her Bachelor’s in Journalism from NJCU back in 2012. When she isn’t out investigating sources and digging up interesting Hoboken history, she is training at CKO kickboxing in Hoboken. Aida is Instagram and food-obsessed {and you can see her love of both by searching the hashtag #adamandaidatakethecity}. Aside from eating her way around town, Aida spends time shopping in NYC, reading actual books {no e-books to be found}, and spending quality time with her boyfriend, parents, older brother, and cocker poodle, Benji.