Many things come to restaurateurs’ lips when their patrons tell them they can’t afford to pay. Most, however, do not say, “Damn it to hell, you don’t need any money to eat in my place.” But that is just what Nellie (Marshall) Barnes told the starving artists who were among her favorite customers, as were fishermen and boatmen. The daughter of a Grand Banks fishing captain, Barnes opened her restaurant here in 1918, just after artists moved into the studios at F. A. Days & Sons. “She thought artists were wonderful and Charles Hawthorne was god,” Nat Halper wrote in The Advocate in 1952. Hawthorne returned the favor by painting Barnes’s portrait in 1919. The New York Times said the subject wore “a sphinx-like little smile which seems to say: ‘I know a great many things that I could tell if I wished — and maybe I might.’”
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