Walk into Freddie’s Place on Fenn Street in Pittsfield and you’re bound to feel a bit nostalgic. Old-fashioned glass soda bottles — flavors like “lime rickey” and “ginger beer” – line the front counter. Pictures of root beer floats served up in classic, ‘50s era soda shop glassware adorn the wall, while on another are the trappings of a bygone era in music: a vinyl Yamaha ’45 record hangs next to a green Guild electric guitar and faded pictures of musicians playing at Eastover in Lenox a half century ago.
Look closely over the bay window and on the counter, and you’ll spot vintage baseball cards of greats from the New York Yankees and those bearing the colors of their perennial rival, the Boston Red Sox.
Fred Rivelli just marked the two-year anniversary of his namesake Freddie’s Place, the 600-square foot restaurant that resides directly across the street from the historic Highland Restaurant, a Pittsfield landmark dating back to before the second World War. The upstart That’s a Wrap, relocated here, too, after years on Tyler Street.
Fenn Street is fast-becoming restaurant row, it seems.
Rivelli’s path to opening up Freddie’s Place was, at first glance, an unconventional one. He spent years as a machinist and also as a display manager for Sears. But ever since he was a teen, Rivelli was never far away from the restaurant business —-— first washing dishes at the ITAM Lodge and later helping out a Dalton-based catering company.
When he decided to open Freddie’s Place in 2014, it was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. And his guiding principal was to serve up food — and good food at that — with a side of nostalgia.
“Everything I do here is made to order,” he said. “What I really wanted was to get away from frozen and processed food. If you order a hamburger, it’s formed on the spot — never taken out of the freezer.”
That extends to almost everything on the menu, including popular specials like his ‘pot roast sandwich.” Order a tuna salad, and it’s made then and there.
That has Fred making multiple runs each day to restock the fridge and his pantry. He procures all his ingredients locally, from Guidos for meat and High Lawn Farm for dairy.
Breakfast Served All Day!
It was Freddie’s Place growing reputation that brought me into breakfast on a recent Saturday morning in December — accompanied by my food-loving daughter, Elizabeth, 9.
Elizabeth ordered a classic kid-friendly choice: fluffy chocolate chip pancakes served with whipped cream. She washed that down with a healthy glass of OJ. For my part, I elected to go for more traditional diner breakfast fare, opting for scrambled eggs toast and home fries.
Good food, served up by friendly staff.
Breakfast, served all day, is relatively new at Freddie’s beginning last August.
His biggest draw remains lunch, where kids young and old can order hot dogs or burgers and wash them down with a malt or root beer float or old -ashioned soda. Fred travels to Connecticut to re-stock the old-fashioned Hosmer Mountain soda.
“We do have a lot to offer kids. For one, any item on the menu can be ordered as a kid’s portion,” he said.
He also welcomes youngsters to stand near the cash register and see Fred, and staff Tina Dickson and Shannon Stephens help put together meals.
And along with root beer floats and made-to-order milk shakes, Freddie’s now offers SoCo ice cream, including seasonal flavors such Ginger Bread and Egg Nog
So the next time you’re in the vicinity of North Street or dropping your ballerina off at Cantarella School of Dance, give Freddie’s Place a try.