An Inside View of Gosman's Restaurant

Collection Owner:
Cover Image:
Kitchen Line, Gosman's Restaurant, Labor Day Weekend, 1975.
Kitchen Line, Gosman's Restaurant, Labor Day Weekend, 1975.

Collection Facts


Historical Context

This is a photographic documentary of Labor Day scenes in 1975 at Gosman’s Restaurant in Montauk, N.Y. Mary and Robert Gosman started the waterfront establishment as a small chowder stand in 1943, originally serving fishermen, but by 1975 it had grown into a sprawling, highly popular seafood restaurant serving tourists and employing hundreds of locals and seasonal immigrants. Several generations of the Gosman family worked (and continue to work) beside and directly above hired staff.

Maria-Louise Sidoroff, Ph.D. (b. 1936), an anthropologist specializing in prehistoric ceramic technology, was working at Gosman’s as a waitress in 1975 and was friends with Gosman family members, in particular Roberta Gosman Donovan, the daughter of Mary and Robert. Inspired by an anthropological angle as well as a photography class she was taking at the School of Visual Arts, Maria-Louise spent dawn to dusk on Labor Day photographing the restaurant’s kitchen and wait staff as they worked diligently behind the scenes. She managed to capture moments of both organized chaos, from lines of cooks to lines of servers loading up trays to deliver to customers and rest when there was some downtime.

Maria-Louise had not expected to take as many photographs as she did that day, but ultimately, she said, “I used every drop of black-and-white film in town.” She and a friend and Gosman’s hostess, Wendy Rosa-Monda, developed 59 8x10-inch prints and had them scanned, then presented a photo album to Roberta Gosman Donovan, who died in 2018. Dr. Sidoroff, who donated the scans to the Montauk Library Archives, said she is still in touch with people she worked with over her seven summer seasons at Gosman’s Restaurant almost half a century ago.

Scope of Collection

The photographic collection consists of 59 black-and-white digital photographs, scanned from 8x10-inch prints. Maria-Louise Sidoroff, Ph.D. took the pictures during a 12-hour shift while working as a waitress at Gosman’s Restaurant in Montauk, N.Y. over Labor Day weekend, in 1975. The scenes portray a behind-the-scenes look into an established locally-owned restaurant, portraits of the owners, and candid views of the waitstaff and kitchen staff in action during one of the busiest weekends in Montauk. A majority of the people in the photographs have been identified.