Mary and Robert Gosman started Gosman’s as a small chowder stand in 1943, originally serving fishermen. By 1975 it had grown into a sprawling, highly popular seafood destination serving tourists and employing hundreds of locals and seasonal immigrants. Several generations of the Gosman family worked (and continue to work) beside and directly above hired staff.
Maria-Louise Sidoroff, Ph.D., an anthropologist, was working at the waterfront establishment as a waitress in 1975 and was friends with Gosman family members, in particular Roberta Gosman, the daughter of Mary and Robert. Inspired by an anthropological angle as well as a photography class she was taking, Maria-Louise spent dawn to dusk on Labor Day photographing the restaurant’s kitchen and wait staff as they worked diligently behind the scenes. She managed to capture moments of both organized chaos, from lines of cooks to lines of servers loading up trays, and rest when there was downtime.
Maria-Louise had not expected to take as many photographs as she did that day, but ultimately, she said, “I used every drop of black-and-white film in town.” She and a friend and Gosman’s hostess, Wendy Rosa-Monda, developed 59 prints and had them scanned, then presented a photo album to Roberta Gosman, who died in 2018. Dr. Sidoroff, who donated the scans to the Montauk Library Archives, said she is still in touch with people she worked with over her seven summer seasons at Gosman’s almost half a century ago.
The full collection of photographs, “An Inside View of Gosman’s Restaurant,” can be seen in a slideshow that went up this week in the Montauk Library’s Local History Exhibit Center. It can also be viewed online at the New York Digital Heritage website.