Breakfast special named for special regular at Mattapoisett Diner

Jan 16, 2022

As sure as eggs would sizzle on the grill and java would percolate in the coffee pot, Elaine Vandament would visit the Mattapoisett Diner.

Every morning, she would sit on her favorite bar stool near the front door and order breakfast. Then, after running a few errands, she returned for lunch. On Friday nights, she routinely ordered the American chop suey.

But as much as she enjoyed the food, she was not just there to eat. 

When the supply of butter knives ran low, she ran to the store to replenish the supply. If new tables needed to be cleared, she grabbed a rag and cleanser and prepared them. When a line of customers lined up at the door,  she would direct people to available seats.

“This was her place, morning, noon and night,’’ diner owner Brian Vose said. “She loved helping out, being part of the team. She just loved doing it.’’

Over time, a bond developed between her and the staff. For Vose, whose own mother died in 2009, Vandament became something of a second mother, offering advice and encouragement.

“She was my biggest supporter and my biggest food food critic,’’ he said with a smile. “She loved the girls who worked here.’’

The diner staff felt equally connected. “She would tell us all the time that she loved us,’’ said waitress Sheri Bird. “She was part of our family.’’

So when Vandament died unexpectedly Jan. 3 at 84, Vose and his staff were devastated. She had visited the diner just days before, he recalled, and seemed as upbeat as ever. “It hasn’t been the same without her.’’

The diner family wanted to create a permanent memorial, “some way of honoring her for everything she’s done for us.’’ 

So now, whenever anyone orders what was her favorite breakfast in recent months  _ a one-egg bacon scramble with one small blueberry pancake served with a coffee _ they are having  “Elaine’s (Mom’s) Special.’’

And her regular bar stool, right in the center of the hubbub, will remain unoccupied for some time, as a memorial to their friend.

Visitors to the diner can see her funeral card at the seat, along with the rag and cleanser she used to wipe down tables and her favorite hot beverage cup with an unusual attachment: A straw.

Bird smiled as she recalled the reason behind a straw for a hot drink. “She didn’t want to ruin her lipstick.’’

Having a permanent menu special in her memory ensures that she will remain a fixture in the diner, Vose said. “Even though she’s gone, she’s not gone.’’

That support has buoyed Vandament’s family, who are still reeling from the sudden loss.

“They just really embraced her as family,’’ her daughter, Veronica Brockwell, shared. “That’s the lovely thing about being in a small town and being part of a community.’’

Community matters greatly to Brockwell, as it did to her mother. She and her brother Scott Vandament oversee the Mattapoisett Living site on Facebook to connect people in town, trying to reflect their mother’s belief in positivity and community.

“She would only try to focus on the positive in people. Because of that, she could love everyone. She never met a stranger. She loved people.’’

The family takes comfort in the support that the community has shown them in their grief.

“The outpouring has been absolutely amazing,’’ Brockwell said. “I’m so grateful. People die every single day _ amazing, wonderful people die every single day _ and it amazes me how much attention she has received.’’

There’s a reason for that Bird says, as she prepares silverware for the next morning’s breakfast rush, a task Vandament often helped with.

“Everybody loved her.’’