A family dining experience
An owner of Joseph's Two talks of the diner's early days
Tucked at the intersection of Bacon and Main Streets is a restaurant that has endured decades of change. Josephs Two, a breakfast and lunch restaurant located next to a McDonald's, stands out against the background of chain restaurants it is next to, representing a small piece of Waltham's past in the face of the restaurant world's constant turnover and expansion.When you walk into Josephs Two, you hear calming music playing in the background. Although the restaurant has a diner-like atmosphere, it still feels relaxed and personal.
Originally opened in 1972, Josephs Two has watched the Waltham community transform.
Joseph Santo, the restaurant's middle-aged owner, says that his father bought the restaurant from his uncle, wh---o used to own a chain of restaurants. Although the restaurant was initially named Sigun Pizza, it reopened under its current name in 1979 after Santo graduated from culinary school. The restaurant was named Josephs Two after Santo and his father, who are both named Joseph.
In the first few years of business, the restaurant didn't have to compete with chain restaurants, Santo says. He say the restaurant did well in it's early years, and only competed with other independent restaurants.
As chain restaurants began to infiltrate Waltham, Josephs Two had to make some changes in order to compete financially. While the restaurant used to sell mainly pizza, it switched to serving breakfast food after chains started to undersell the family-owned enterprise.
Santo says that although Waltham is now known for its diverse culinary selection, since Josephs Twos opened, the amount of restaurants in Waltham have "[increased] by threefold [while] retail went down threefold."
Santo, who has graying hair and a face full of stubble, sees the amount of restaurants in Waltham as a problem. "We can't have a whole city [where] the only reason to come is to eat."
True to its family-owned roots, Josephs Two has a tight-knit staff of about 25. A recently-retired waitress named Norma worked at the restaurant for 31 years, while the restaurant's chef has been working there for 30 years.
Other staff members, such as the restaurant's two dishwashers, have been working at the restaurant for 20 and 25 years, respectively.
Santo treats his staff like family, which is why he believes so many of them have stayed for so long.
"I take care of my help [and] never missed a payroll in 30 years," says Santo. "I've never laid anyone off in 30 years."
Linda McDonald has been a waitress at Josephs Two for 14 years.
"It's like working for a family. They treat me like part of the family," she says.
McDonald adds that she and Joe are "good friends. He's still my boss though."
Santo's least favorite parts of owning a restaurant are "the hours and trying to keep good help all the time." But Santo says he has been able to meet many different kinds of people who come in to eat.
Santo reminisces, "[One time a] waitress [was] here, who ... wasn't related to me [and] was one of the better ones I'd ever had. It was a busy evening, so she came around the corner with two trays of food in her hand, and her pants fell down to her ankles, and the place was packed and she didn't want to drop the food. She had to have the cooks help her, everyone was clapping. She made about 400 dollars that night!"
Santo says the restaurant attracts a lot of Brandeis customers. He recalls that he has had "Brandeis parents that come into the kitchen and say, 'Joe, we were here last year, do you remember?'... Parents all the way from New York."
"A lot of Brandeis kids... their parents come back at the end of the year and take pictures with me," says McDonald.
Carmel Sandler '12 goes to Josephs Two every weekend to catch up with a good friend.
"It's a friendly family atmosphere. You see other people your age from Brandeis and Bentley, but it's also just nice to get off campus," says Sandler.
Sandler, whose favorite dish is the Bostonian, a breakfast sandwich, feels the warm atmosphere whenever she's there.
"There are little kids in the kitchen. The family atmosphere makes me want to come here," says Sandler.
By now, Sandler and her friend have gotten to know the staff.
"We're regulars. [Whenever we're there], they're like 'Hey girls! Two, right?'" she says.
Sandler believes that Josephs Two is a unique dining experience in Waltham.
"It adds a nice homey comfort away from home."--
-Lexy Brooks contributed