Gilleys Still My Favorite Portsmouth Eatery
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Written by SeacoastNH Archive

478 detail00Historic Portsmouth #478 Archive

We all have our Gilley stories. Mine are legion and most not fit for publication. The first time I partook of a Gilley dog and beans the rolling restaurant was parked in Market Square. (Continued below with photo) 


I went home and used my father's woodworking tools to design a pull toy in the shape of the wagon. I dreamed of making my living  selling wooden Gilley carts and selling them to the tourists. I think I made two before I realized I was no craftsman. And yet the dogs and burgers and fries keep coming. I still go to sit on the same stools in the only dining establishment in town that remains unchanged decades later. This photo shows Ralph Gilbert and Harold Clark (who was Harold?). "Gilley" was actually an employee who worked for the Kennedy family for five decades and passed away in 1986. The late night food wagon received a nightly ticket from the police for parking illegally until it moved to its stationary spot on 175 Fleet Street in 1974. This is the earlier Kennedy cart built in 1916, seen here in 1937. It was originally towed into town by horsecart, and later this 1922 tractor. The current Gilley Wagon is the only surviving example of five custom-made diners built in 1940. (Courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum )\

Gilley's original Lunch Wagon in 1937


Original Gilleys detail