The Unbearable Banishment: is there a diner in your life?

Friday, March 13, 2009

is there a diner in your life?

Does this photo conjure up any memories for you?

Of course, I don’t mean this sign specifically but, do you have a diner in your life? A place to eat eggs and sip coffee with friends or family? Sitting alone with a newspaper is best of all. You can really scour your soul when you’re alone in a diner. I like sitting at the counter. You get the best service at the counter because you’re right in their face.

Diners are my favorite places on the planet. They’re so unpretentious and comfortable. They feel like home.

When I was in high school, before we were old enough to drink and hang out in bars, we use to meet at the L+K on Pearl Road to flirt with the cute waitresses. (Hi, Z.) At a hotel coffee shop we frequented on Bagley Road, I use to sit at a table and write in my journal. When my friends came in and saw me sitting alone writing, they would leave me alone and I would finish up and join them. I think they use to make fun of me but that’s okay. I didn’t mind being the fool. Still don’t.

New Jersey has some fantastic diners. Here’s where I go with 7-Year Old Daughter on Saturday afternoons for lunch:

Isn’t it a classic? I’ve been taking her here since she was 4. The waitresses know her and make a fuss when we come in. We have a favorite waitress and always make sure we get a booth in her section, even if we have to wait. My hope is that when Daughter is older, she’ll sit in these same booths with the same jukebox selections (they haven't changed in decades) and say to herself, “This is where my dad used to take me when I was a kid. I love it here.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've moved around a lot but no matter where i live, I always scout out and claim a diner. I would take a meal at a diner over "fine' dining any day.

FYI, your current word verification is one letter away from the word, "fisted".

March 13, 2009 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

Is that the diner in Redbank, NJ? It looks familiar. In highschool we used to meet up at The Arena Diner. Knowing where a good diner is a must in any city, but the best have always been in the North East.

March 13, 2009 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Pop: Fine dining is wasted on me, which is a shame because some of the best restaurants in the world are in NYC (I hear). I get my kicks outside of restaurants.

AFM: Yes, it is! How do you know about Red Bank? Have you passed through town? And I do think that the Northeast has thing for diners.

March 13, 2009 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

There's a diner near me where I used to go every saturday when I was tiny. I'd have the same thing every time: burger (no relish), fries, and a strawberry milkshake. They all knew me in there and still wave at me when I go past, although my feet touch the ground when I'm sitting in there now.

March 13, 2009 at 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I lived back north, I went to this place called the 5 Spot Diner, on QAA and Galer. About three blocks from my house. I went there two or three times a week, easily. When they had their 15 year anniversary they insisted on putting my picture up on the wall with the other regulars, and a little caption of my regular order. I was so honored...knew all of the staff by name, great place to watch the rain fall on a late night of insomnia.


March 13, 2009 at 3:49 PM  
Blogger Barlinnie said...

Alas, my local 'diner' was robbed of it's 70 year old proprietor last month, and I feel like I have lost a limb.

A man must have two things in life to call his own.
1. A clean toilet.
2. Somewhere familiar to eat.

Everything else is just by-the-by!

March 13, 2009 at 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I've never stayed in one place long enough to acquire such a place for myself.

Plus I suppose you could say I'm not all that big on eating out either. Most of my "diner patronage" comes when I'm (we're) on the road travelling somewhere.

March 13, 2009 at 7:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and someday? perhaps she'll bring her little critters there and sit in the same section... diners are like that!

March 13, 2009 at 9:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're from my hood (west sayeeed), but I don't remember the L+K. I get that same comfortable feeling from breakfast joints (The Big Egg, anyone?). I do remember that hotel coffee shop on Bagley. I lived right down the street from there my EN-tire life until I escaped to the bright lights and big city skyline for which Dayton is not known. I hear there's a Denny's here but I haven't seen it. There is a place up yonder in Sidney, Ohio (near a Sullivan building, strangely), called The Spot. Classic diner.
Great. Now I want a club sayngwich.

March 13, 2009 at 9:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a diner. A coffeeshop owned by a nice couple and we got to be regulars. Those kind of places are hard to find anymore.

March 13, 2009 at 11:00 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Jo & SA: This is exactly the type of memory I hope my daughter carries with her into her teenage years and beyond.

Jimmy: I’m sorry to hear that but 70 is a pretty good run.

Rob: Diners are perfect for roamers such as you. Sit in any booth in any diner and the warm feeling (and food) is universal.

Pickles: LOVED the Big Egg, which I hear is going to reopen. Is that true? The L+K was near Webster Road by the Islander bar. It’s a family restaurant now.

Annie: A coffee shop falls into this category as well. There are many of those in my past (and present!). They offer the same comforting glow.

ALL: Do yourself a big favor and take a look at Jimmy Bastard’s blog (above). It’s some of the most vibrant writing I’ve ever come across in the ether.

March 14, 2009 at 8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We must not forget Kenny Kings...Sunday mornings and the best onion rings ever.

March 14, 2009 at 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post makes me teary. Growing up in NJ diners are a part of life. From childhood to teen to adulthood everyone MUST have a diner to call home. I have the fondest memories of my diner and I'm thrilled that you bring Daughter to one now.

March 14, 2009 at 11:08 AM  
Blogger Bluestreak said...

this post made me homesick for ANY diner, not one in particular. I'd give anything to sit in a big booth drinking refil after refil of hot coffee and eating eggs benedict while reading the NY Times. That would be heaven to me right now.

March 15, 2009 at 12:14 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

MT: You're right! And don't forget The Whip, either.

Mrs. Wife: I'll get the other daughter hooked on the Broadway Diner too as soon as she's old enough.

Blue: Welcome! What?! No diners in Spain?! I'd relocate immediately.

March 15, 2009 at 1:24 PM  
Blogger The Hangar Queen said...

Hello there. Found my way here by way of Jimmy Bastard.(You're right. He is brilliant)

Ah,diners. I've been working nights for nearly 4 years and I'd have died from loneliness if it wasn't for the diners in my life.

Nothing beats the cop/trucker/hooker/insomniac/criminal/broken hearted mix you get at 3AM.

March 20, 2009 at 1:07 AM  

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