To Dombrowski, the appeal of clambakes is obvious. "To me, a clambake is more of a backyard thing than necessarily a restaurant thing," he says. "I think it's a time to get together and have a party in the fall, eat and drink, and have a good time with your friends and family."
It's also ideal for a party since clams "hold up to being cooked," he notes. "It's not like something like a lobster or mussels or other kinds of shellfish, like shrimp, that if you cook them and they hang out for 45 minutes, they're tough and not very good. Clams are fine -- you dip 'em in butter, and they're good to go."
At the end of the day, despite the winding history of clambakes, the appeal is simple.
"It's all about being outside," Young says. It's all about being with your friends, and all about enjoying food. I think that's what my grandfather really believed in."
Special thanks to the Western Reserve Historical Society's Research Library. Sources used in the story include MS. 4456, Ralph J. Perk Papers; MS. 3913, Cyrus Eaton Papers; and PG. 574 Halle Bros. Co. Photographs.