While most of the good people of Greenwich are home sound asleep in their beds, Frank “Hotsy” Bertino is just beginning his day. He gets into work at Garden Catering in Old Greenwich at 2 a.m., greeting the bread man and firing up the Fryolators, then setting to work peeling and dicing the potatoes and cooking up the bacon, sausages and his signature chili.
At 4 a.m. he flips on the neon “Open” sign and welcomes his first customers — police officers, firemen and limo drivers, those who serve and protect the community. Some days as he opens the doors, a group of hungry teenagers and young men has already gathered along Sound Beach Avenue, the revelers and stragglers winding down their nights, fiending for their crack-of-dawn “Hotsies,” Mr. Bertino’s name sake sandwich.
As the sun rises and the real breakfast run begins, he welcomes the commuters who breeze through the shop on their way to catch the train across the street. The customers are predictable and steady, like the man himself, a mainstay at Garden Catering who has managed the early morning shift for more than 20 years.
This past Monday, July 11, Mr. Bertino stuck to the routine, coming into work and greeting and serving his loyal patrons. “What’ll you have?” he asked customers in his gravelly voice, taking orders and pouring the coffee. It was a day like any other day, except for a few minor changes: The balloons that decked the entrance of the store and a change in the price of the Hotsies. The bacon, egg, cheese, chili and home fry sandwiches were being sold for $0.90 each — to honor Mr. Bertino on his 90th birthday.
Mike Paoletta, who manages Garden Catering’s Old Greenwich location, said there is “no one better than Hotsy.”
“The biggest thing I’ve learned from this man is consistency and to take care of the customer,” Mr. Paoletta said. “That’s all that he does.” Read More