Arlo Guthrie’s 1967 song “Alice’s Restaurant” is a staple of Americana, one that has been synonymous with Thanksgiving ever since a radio station played the nearly 20-minute antiwar tune on the holiday. Deep within the Berkshires, however, Alice’s Restaurant is not just a simple folk tune, but also refers to its inspiration: a popular café that actually went by a different name.
In reality, the place was never called Alice’s Restaurant. It was called The Back Room, but it was indeed Alice’s restaurant in one way: Alice Brock was a restaurateur, artist, and friend of Guthrie’s, was the owner of The Back Room and the inspiration for the song. The Back Room was, fittingly enough, operated from the back room of a general store in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Currently, the only indication that this café was once the inspiration for Alice’s Restaurant can be found on the signs that usher passersby to the new on-site establishment, Theresa’s Stockbridge Cafe. Theresa’s, which has partnered with the Main Street Cafe inside the aforementioned general store, is the closest anyone will get to eating at Alice’s Restaurant. For a Thanksgiving dinner with a side of history, it can’t be beat. Just be careful you don’t run into Officer Obie.
Know Before You Go
Don't follow the directions said in the song. You can't walk right in around the back any more, just head right in the front door.