Play to revisit Wheatons Restaurant

Andrew
Andrew Wagstaff
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

PARRSBORO Its been 45 years since Wheatons Restaurant burned to the ground, but Suzanne Burchell has never forgotten its welcoming atmosphere.

Thus she has written Youre Always Welcome at Wheatons, a four-act play about the popular restaurant that will be presented in a reading at The Destination Gallery on Monday, Aug. 20.Suzanne Burchell will present a reading of her four-act play, Youre Always Welcome at Wheatons, at The Destination Gallery on Monday, Aug. 20. The story is about the

popular Wheatons Restaurant, which operated for many years in Parrsboro until the great fire of 1962.

Play to revisit Wheatons Restaurant

PARRSBORO Its been 45 years since Wheatons Restaurant burned to the ground, but Suzanne Burchell has never forgotten its welcoming atmosphere.

Thus she has written Youre Always Welcome at Wheatons, a four-act play about the popular restaurant that will be presented in a reading at The Destination Gallery on Monday, Aug. 20.

Im so excited, Im rocking, she said. Its going to be a lot of fun.

Burchell fondly recalls Wheatons Restaurant when it was a hub of activity on Main Street during the 1950s, but recalls with even more fondness the people who owned and operated it. She still sees Bill and Irene Wheaton regularly during her summers in Parrsboro.

It was Bills mother, Lottie, who walked up and down Main Street with her back in 1971 to find her a drive to Advocate when she was alone and in need of help. And last year it was Irenes friendly face that she came upon when she was in a similar time of need.

Every time I come home I see Irene and she always makes a fuss over me, said Burchell. Last summer in the park, I was all by myself, and it was the first summer since my mother died. Irene waved me over to her and wanted to show me an old picture of me in the restaurant with (her son) Billy when we were kids.

A teacher of theatre in both university and high school, Burchell decided she wanted to write a play about Wheatons Restaurant, and was thrilled when Bill and Irene gave their blessings to the project. She has spent a lot of time since travelling to places like Moose River and Amherst to interview those who used to work at the restaurant and others, and do the necessary research.

Another vital piece of the puzzle fell into place when Destination Gallery owner Taylor Redmond offered her place as a venue for the reading, and it was Redmonds idea to decorate the setting into a restaurant.

Reading the part of Irene will be former waitress Joan Quinn, and many others have also agreed to take part, including the grandson of Perly Wright, who owned the drug store that also burned with the restaurant in the 1962 fire.

In creating the play Burchell said she discovered why the restaurant was such a success. It only the congeniality that Bill and Irene were known for, but also their intelligence in training their waitresses and treating all their help equally.

It wasnt happenstance that Wheatons was so popular, she said. Bill was very innovative, and always had the latest gimmicks like the doughnut maker in the window. Irene was the hostess and always took the time to talk to people. Those things are what drove the title, Youre Always Welcome at Wheatons, not just the restaurant but you can go to their door.

In her directors notes, she explained that she had learned lifes most important lessons from the Wheatons - courage when life does not work out, strength to carry on, and love.

Organizations: The Destination Gallery

Geographic location: Wheatons, PARRSBORO, Moose River Amherst

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments