Evelyn’s Drive-In opens for the season today, with owners Jane and Dom Bitto celebrating their 30th anniversary of owning Tiverton’s iconic roadside seafood stop.
When Jane and Dom first visited Evelyn’s in 1987, Ronald Reagan was president, The Simpsons had just debuted, and the gas that the young couple put in their car for a trip out to the Cape was just 89 cents a gallon. “We took a wrong turn and stopped for lunch, and heard the owner say the restaurant was for sale,” Jane remembers. That happy accident soon led to the young, ambitious couple purchasing Evelyn’s from its namesake founder, who gave the Bittos her recipes and helped them take over the operation of the restaurant in July, 1987.
A lot has changed over the years, and not just gas prices. The Bittos has three children while juggling shifts; all three would eventually work alongside the hundreds of employees who have joined the Evelyn’s family over the years. “We love our staff and they love us back,” says Jane.
Not even a devastating fire in July of 2005 could slow the Bittos down: Evelyn’s came back strong the following year with a newly expanded dining room, thanks in part to local friends and fans who helped raise money for the renovations. That generosity reflected the restaurant’s strong roots in the local community, which includes the Bittos’ founding and sponsorship of the annual Singing Out Against Hunger concerts at Evelyn’s.
Over the years, Evelyn’s has grown from its roots as a simple seafood shack to a full-service restaurant offering a mix of classics like fried clams and fish & chips to serving seven different salads, their famous lobster chow mien (a mashup of two New England favorites lauded by celebrity chef Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives), and a menu of creative cocktails. In addition to an indoor dining room and picnic-table pavilion for takeout, Evelyn’s also added a waterfront patio right next to the restaurant’s dock, a popular stop for boaters cruising Mount Hope Bay and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay.
For the 2017 season, Evelyn’s is celebrating 30 years with a variety of weekly specials all summer, including $10.99 fish and chips on Mondays, $5 chowder and clam cakes Monday to Thursday, and $30 dinners for two on Wednesdays. The 30th anniversary dinner special includes clam cakes, a glass of beer or wine, and favorites like fish & chips, crab cakes, clam strips, grilled chicken, Mediterranean calamari salad, and beef, shrimp, or chicken chow mien.
The 2017 Singing Out Against Hunger Concerts will be held on three Fridays this summer: July 14, Aug. 11, and Sept. 8. All shows start at 5 p.m.; admission is free. Performers TBA.