Former Mary’s Snack Bar, or Mary Spaghetti’s
Former Mary’s Snack Bar, 2 Bradford Street. [2010, Dunlap]
Mary Souza, from “Provincetown Folklore; An Endangered Species; ‘Shades of Yore!'” by Joe Lazaro, Provincetown Magazine, 25 June 1992. [Salvador R. Vasques III / Facebook / My Provincetown Memorabilia Collection]
Advertisement in the Advocate, 9 June 1960. [Provincetown Public Library]
From the 1940s through the 1960s, a long shack in front of 2 Bradford Street served as Mary’s Snack Bar, better known as Mary Spaghetti’s, after its proprietor Mary Souza (1906-1983).1 Open until 3 a.m., it was a popular rendezvous with “night prowlers,” as the Advocate put it, and anathema to the neighbors. Among those night prowlers once were Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Mary’s claims to fame were “clamburgers” and pepper steak, but the name of the joint suggested another specialty of the house — besides general uproar — though she may have borrowed her nickname from her first husband, the trap boat captain Joseph “Spaghetti” Souza (1895-1954).
Mary’s stayed open until 3:00. “Two in the morning was the magic hour,” Joe Lazaro wrote in a profile of Souza published by Provincetown Magazine in 1992. “Mary would do all of the cooking and she would have a couple of waitresses cover the floor. In one setting, this tiny diner could hold up to about 40 people. We sat on kegs and makeshift seats of sorts, and back in the early days, some chairs. Atmosphere. The meetings. The home cooking smell. The convivial gathering made for a most delectable finish for the night.”
“Her prices were so affordable that we thought we were taking advantage of her generosity,” Lazaro said. “It was her pleasure to provide a place for the bartenders and waitresses and all other late-night people to get a late bite to eat.”
A renovation plan offered by the owner, Sheila (Kim) Oliver, was approved by the Historic District Commission in 2010. A year later, however, Oliver returned with a request to demolish the building. Renovation was impossible, she said through a representative, because of “insufficient framing, rotted materials, existing overhead electric/telephone service, and close proximity (±4 feet) to the neighboring two-story dwelling.” A Cape-style cottage replaced the shack in 2012.
Donna Patrick wrote on 22 November 2015: This was my Nana’s place. She was a loving, fun lady with a big heart! The best cook in Ptown. Known for her kale soup. Her family loves and misses her every day.
David Souza wrote on 31 August 2016: I am proud of my Nana’s place in Ptown history. I have years of great memories in “Mary’s Snackbar,” pulling “tonics” out off the big ice chest in the back, and staying up late watching the action. Loved it and my Nana. Miss both very much. They are a big part of me!
¶ Last updated on 13 November 2022.
1 Birth and death dates assume that she is one and the same as Mary Jesus Souza Carter (Find a Grave Memorial No. 164084337), described by Joe Lazaro as having been married first to the trapboat captain Joe “Spaghetti” Souza and second to Al Carter in Lazaro’s article “Provincetown Folklore; An Endangered Species; ‘Shades of Yore!'”, 25 June 1992 Provincetown Magazine.
2 Bradford Street on the Town Map, showing property lines.
Also at this address