The New York Times

Cars and Carbs

By Jack Silbert

Published: June 1, 2008

Link to Article

"On Saturday at the Chatterbox in Augusta, hundreds of classic-car enthusiasts, like Gary Sless with his homemade replica 1932 hot rod, converge for "Cruise-In Night." The gatherings at this Sussex County spot run from May through September, but you don't need to be a gearhead to fuel up here. Don Hall, the owner, has created a friendly, entertaining place with a 1950s-'60s theme.

The building, with its prominent sloping roof, looks a bit like the spaceship from "The Day the Earth Stood Still." Inside, the perimeter of the large, vaguely circular dining room (technically, it's a dodecagon), is lined with booths, big windows and old movie posters. In the middle of the black-and-white-checked floor — beneath the disco ball — is a frequently changed display car. (Recently, this was a 1970 Superbird used as an animation model for the movie "Cars.") The room also houses a 1959 dragster and a vintage motorcycle. Overhead, an electric train makes its way around the circumference.

On Thursdays (motorcycle night) and Saturdays a D.J. spins oldies for the crowd, and all seem welcome here: My friends Karen and Colin Kellaher joke that the Chatterbox is one of the few restaurants where their energetic children haven't been blacklisted.

I enjoyed the half-pound, char-broiled Chatterburger ($6.99 with choice of fries, cole slaw, potato salad, fruit salad, baked beans or applesauce) and a Molly Pitcher (orange soda with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, $3.29). The menu also includes hot dogs, sandwiches, salads, wraps, seafood and desserts. Everything but the barbecued ribs ($11.99) costs less than $10. The Little Chatterbox meal ($5.99), for children under 10, comes in a cardboard "classic car.""