Lunch on Cape Cod

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jan 21, 2012

"Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what's for lunch."
Orson Welles

Although we love Cape Cod, we don't get there very often. To get there one must be intentional. It is not like someone described Indiana when they said it was a place they often went through on their way somewhere else. 

We did visit there twice before, once when Evie and I were alone and the other when our children joined us. Both times we went whale watching. We drove by the Kennedy compound. We took the ferry to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. We will never forget looking out over the water where John Kennedy, Jr.'s plane went down. 

We drove to Cape Cod because I was invited to speak to a group of church leaders who had gathered from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Since my obligations were over on Wednesday, we decided to give ourselves the gift of one more day before we returned home. 

A nor'easter was beginning to form and snow was predicted within the next 24 hours so we knew it would be a rainy day. And it was. But when you are meandering in and out of quaint gift shops and restaurants with the person you love most in the entire world, you hardly notice the weather. 

Part of the charm on a day like that is choosing the places you eat. We were not in a hurry to begin our day but after resting in, answering a host of emails, and catching the news and a bit of "Regis and Kelly," we ventured outside with our open umbrellas over our heads to find a place for lunch. Twice we pulled into the parking lots of fascinating looking places but twice we discovered what we should have known-many restaurants on Cape Cod are closed in October. 

As we were driving through downtown Hyannis, however, our eyes caught sight of "Persy's Place" with the large red neon sign "OPEN." The moment we walked inside we knew were in for a treat. And we were not disappointed. Miceala showed us to our booth, a light-toned wooden booth along an old wall with a window where we looked out on that rainy day. 

The menu told us that Persy's Place opened its doors in 1982. Since then it has been run and managed entirely by family members and employee partners. Currently, three generations of Hestons are involved; a major influence is "Mom, known by all the grandkids as Grammy Bob." Persy's Place boasts "New England's Largest Breakfast and Lunch Menu" and though they have a total of seven other restaurants, "We are not a chain." To get an idea of the decor, Norman Rockwell pictures in inexpensive frames were hanging on all the walls. 

We sat there taking it all in and then turned to the menu. Immediately our eyes saw "New England Clam Chowder" described as "Sweet and creamy... made with Gram Heston's original recipe." We both ordered that and when it was served in an old coffee mug, we knew we would remember this day. 

For our main meal, Miceala told us about their specialty, homemade fishcakes and beans. We couldn't believe the size of the portions when our food came and no wonder she said, "You'll role out of here." On the plate were two eggs, pan fried fish cakes (never deep fried), Boston baked beans, grilled corn bread and Persy's home fried potatoes with a touch of onion, all homemade at Persy's Place. Absolutely delicious! 

On a black board sign behind Evie we saw handwritten in chalk the words "Pumpkin Walnut Cakes." We couldn't possibly eat any more but we ordered a "cake" to go. We are still laughing at the "to go" container which had, to our surprise, two round, flat pancakes-not the "cake" we were expecting. 

Rain could never dampen a day like that. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
Responses can be mailed to