Fife and Drum has been chugging along since 1979, when the center noticed a tech school running a similar program and copied its moves. They must've worked out the kinks almost instantly, because as Darren Duarte, director of public affairs for the Massachusetts Department of Correction, tells it, the restaurant today still largely resembles the OG iteration. "It's pretty much the same since the '70s," Duarte says. "There have been no structural changes or renovations. The cost per meal has changed, but that's to be expected."
Still, most diners would consider Fife and Drum's lunch prices a steal. For just $3.21, customers can sample the rare prix fixe that won't bust your bank account. The May 29th menu Jacobs provided boasted clam chowder, garden or Caesar salads, chicken gyros, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, clam rolls, and a Greek salad with chicken kebabs, if you were after the healthy option. If you weren't, they also had peanut butter brownies, chocolate parfait, and chocolate chip cookies for dessert.
So what kind of people are cashing in on this crazy-cheap, crazy-unique dining experience? Octogenarians, apparently. "A lot of elderly come in. Retirees, neighbors," Duarte says. "A lot of times, they’re the ones that have the time to go over there! It’s not necessarily the same people every time, although we do have a group like that." The graying crowd is particularly taken with the barbecue and Chinese food, and not afraid to share some thoughts with the Internet: Fife and Drum has its own Yelp and Urbanspoon pages, as well as a Chowhound thread.