Real restaurant and people
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"Alice" was restaurant owner Alice M. Brock, who with husband Ray Brock lived in a former church in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where the song's Thanksgiving dinners were actually held. She was a painter and designer, while Ray was an architect and woodworker. Both worked at a nearby private academy, the music- and art-oriented Stockbridge School, from which Guthrie (then of the Queens, New York City neighborhood of Howard Beach) had graduated. Alice Brock currently lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and owns an art studio and gallery at 69 Commercial Street. She was diagnosed with emphysema in the mid 1990s. She illustrated the 2004 children's book Mooses [sic] Come Walking, written by Guthrie.
Alice's restaurant (formally known as the Back Room Rest, named for its location down an alley behind a grocery store at 40 Main Street in Stockbridge, Massachusetts) was roughly six miles from the church—though true to the song, it was "just a half-a-mile from the railroad track". Formerly Maluphy's Restaurant, it ran the length of the building from front to back along the side alley. Owned by Alice for only a year before she and Ray divorced, it was, as of 2009, Theresa's Stockbridge Cafe, where a hand-painted sign indicates its former identity. The building's front as of 2009 is The Main Street Cafe.
In 1969, Random House published The Alice's Restaurant Cookbook, which featured recipes and hippie wisdom from Alice Brock, as well as photos of Alice and Guthrie, and publicity stills from the movie. A tear-out record was included in the book with Brock and Guthrie bantering on two tracks, "Italian-Type Meatballs" and "My Granma's Beet Jam".
Other Alice's Restaurants
An Alice's Restaurant operated at the Malibu Pier in Malibu, California from 1972 until the pier closed in 1990. (The pier, but not the restaurant, has subsequently reopened.) An Alice's Restaurant, for which Guthrie was partially credited, opened and closed in 2008 at the Hard Rock Park theme park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Another Alice's Restaurant, whose menu credits Guthrie's song as the inspiration for its name, has been a motorcycle-group ride destination in Woodside, California since the mid-1970s.