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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Recalling some fun days at a famous place

courtesy photo

My hometown has been in the news the last few weeks, and it’s been fun following a story that has drawn some national attention.

The booth that was used to film the final scene of “The Sopranos,” was auctioned off last week, eventually selling for more than $82,000.

The owners of Holsten’s, which those unfamiliar with it beyond the show will likely call a diner (it’s really more of an ice cream shop), made the decision to part with the booth so they could remodel with new ones.

Owners claimed that the booth, along with all the others, had been installed in the mid-1960s, and were too damaged to repair.

Many called it a cash grab, but if you knew Holsten’s the way I do, there’s really no truth to that.

Since the announcement of the decision to sell off the famous booth, I’ve received dozens of calls and texts from old friends talking about the fun times we had and the meals and desserts we shared there years ago.

For those who’ve never been there, walking into Holsten’s is like traveling through a time machine.

It still has the old wood paneling and feel of a place you could hang out in 20, 30 or 40 years ago.

I grew up at Holsten’s.

Located on Broad Street in Bloomfield, I lived a little more than a mile away. Growing up, it was a frequent stop for a quick meal or, more likely, some ice cream.

Nothing beats Holsten’s ice cream (the peach they make in the summer is my favorite) and many times my parents would also let my brother and I choose a few of the homemade chocolates to take home with us.

Easter is approaching, and growing up you could bet that a Holsten’s chocolate bunny would be in your basket.

When I was in high school and college I worked two doors down at Terry Drugs, and most days I would spend my half-hour lunch break at the counter at Holsten’s eating a BLT or a grilled cheese sandwich which I often paired with one of their homemade lemonades or orangeades.

When you order a cherry Coke at Holsten's it’s not served in a can or from a fountain like at a fast food place, it’s coke mixed with cherry syrup (and they even throw a few cherries into your glass).

courtesy photo

Brookdale Park is within walking distance from Holsten’s and when I was in middle and high school and my friends and I would head over to the park for a pickup baseball or football game, we’d always end up at Holsten’s for lunch while we waited for someone’s mom to come pick us up.

It’s not surprising that the producers of “The Sopranos” selected Holsten’s for the final scene of the series.

Bloomfield, like Hammonton, is a heavily-Italian American town and Holsten's has long been a favorite stop for not only locals, but patrons from the surrounding communities.

It made sense that Tony Soprano would know of it, having gone there as a kid.

Likewise, Bloomfield has had its share of, shall we say “underworld” activity, adding to its appeal to producers.

The famous final scene shows Tony entering Holsten’s where he sits at the now famous booth, located near the center of the dining area, and waits for his family to arrive.

He flips through the mini jukebox and settles on Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which plays through the end cut.

In between, his wife and son show up, while his daughter Meadow, struggle to parallel park across the street near the corner of Broad Street and Watchung Avenue.

(I’m often surprised that Meadow didn’t just use the parking lot behind Terry Drugs, there would probably have been a spot or two available on a weeknight.)

Since that show aired, thousands of fans have made the pilgrimage to Holsten’s to see, sit and have a meal in that booth.

Now it’s gone. Some will say it was a bad idea, but for those from my hometown, there is no ill will toward Holsten’s.

It was iconic before “The Sopranos” came to town, and it will remain that way for a long time.

Dan Russoman is the News/Sports Director of The Hammonton Gazette.


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