The line for lunch at Frank’s Diner stretched all the way to the door. Built from the base of a dining car, the restaurant felt very claustrophobic when I first entered the line. The horizontal length of the car and the compact width of the car makes it difficult to move without brushing against people and it didn’t help that the owner was gently pushing past, occasionally stopping to chat with patrons. While friendly banter and wisecracks were supposed to make the wait more bearable, the hum of activity and the clock ticking down to the cafe’s 1:30 closing only made me more anxious. Fortunately, the crowd lessened after twenty minutes and I obtained a seat at the counter on their small chrome blue stools.
While the menu was very tempting and diverse enough in terms of american food, the relationship between the staff and patrons was even more intriguing, with small personal histories peeking through each interaction. I sat next to a regular named Charles who bought the staff a “gift”: a bottle of alcohol that was used to make his drink of choice,a tequila sunrise. My waitress, Julie was kind and patient with a light sense of humor. I apologized for taking too long to look at my menu and she replied that she appreciated having a short break. After finally deciding on my order, I waited and watched the cooks get to work on making various orders. One of the most popular dishes was the garbage plate: a combination of eggs, green onions, and a choice of meat. I also got to listen to Charles and one of the cooks, a young man wearing a Sublime shirt, talk about their social standing among friends. It was mostly just background noise, however, as I read up on the restaurant’s history and took in the surroundings. My blueberry milkshake was served in a large wine glass and topped with sprinkle filled whip cream while my grilled cheese was served with a grilled tomato and ham on homemade bread. The meal was made even better when Charles offered me his fork to use for my side of hash browns. While the bread fell apart on one half of the sandwich, forcing me to eat it open faced, it was a very filling and flavorful. I was also not expecting the hash browns to be soft string potatoes but it was a tasty new experience in flavors and local colloquialisms.
Overall, in spite of the wait time, I enjoyed my trip to Frank’s Diner and I am very willing to make another trip when the weather is warmer. The staff is sassy, friendly and hard working while the patrons are enthusiastic and jubilant. No matter what the crowd is like, you are sure to find a new food, a new favorite hang out spot, or a new friend.