“It was a real gathering place. The food was terrific. You could smell someone who came out of Elsie’s from a mile away,” the dean said. “My favorite was the roast beef special. It had a spectacular dressing.”

Elsie’s filled a niche that many of today’s restaurants and cafes don’t, Dingman said.

“Everybody ate there, faculty, staff, students,” he said. “If you had to meet somebody, you met them at Elsie’s. It was definitely the eatery of choice.”

Harvard Vice President of Government, Community and Public Affairs James H. Rowe ’73 also had fond memories of Elsie’s from his days as an undergraduate.

“I frequented Elsie’s to supplement the dining hall food that wasn’t quite as good as it is now,” he said. “I lived in Lowell House and would often go across the street for late night snack runs, usually their sandwich fare. I was particularly fond of their turkey club. It was very good.”

In addition to its roast beef sandwiches, Elsie’s was best known for its Turkey Deluxe, or “T.D.,” as restaurant regulars called it.