Sunday, October 12, 2014

No. 112 – March 28, 2014 - The Diner Down on South Main Avenue

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

The building on South Main Avenue started life as a Tastee Freeze in the 1960's. 
Robert Laufland and his wife acquired it, starting a neighborhood diner which began serving early in the morning. Clientele included utility workers and others who had to make early jobs. Bill Murphy remembers delivering donuts there from the Swedish Bakery, owned by his parents across the street. 
The portions were generous and the atmosphere friendly and welcoming. Everyone knew everyone, which is how Robert and his wife wanted it. 
When Robert's wife became ill the Diner was purchased by Willian Allds, Jr. Then, his parents took it over. During this time Sonja Loll was hired to run the bustling business. The early mornings, beginning at 5am, at the latest 6am, suited her as did the warm, friendly atmosphere of place. 
Breakfast could include ham, bacon, mouth-watering biscuits, gravy to die for and more. Extras slices of bread were free. While the cooks made breakfast the lunch specials were already simmering, sending out aromas which drew many back a few hours later. 
Diners cheerfully stood to eat sandwiches at lunchtime, waiting for a seat to empty at the counter. Many who ate breakfast there returned for lunch, remembering the savory scents which issued from the kitchen. A good part of their success was the excellence of the food. 
Melveen Allds and Sonja were friends and had known each other for a good long time. 
A neighborhood gathering place, people nearby, living alone, treated it as an extension of their little-used kitchens. Sonja made sure these customers would have a meal ready for them. The daily special was put aside, with dessert. 
It was a comfy arrangement. Melveen and Sonja would sit together at a table when business was light to go over the payroll. Melveen also worked for the Morrisons as a title clerk and bookkeeper. William, Sr., her husband, had worked at General Tire until it went out of business. 
The large bar was open at the corner, next to Murphy's Bakery, had standing orders on Friday night for the House Macaroni and Cheese, fried fish and cold slaw. 
And in the afternoon there was always coffee for which you paid once and poured forever. Evenings you could enjoy supper, with desert or serve yourself ice cream, closing at 7PM. 
Sonja says it was a nice place to work. Do you remember its name?

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