Brace yourselves if you're a newbie. You will walk into a time warp that will feel like you've happened upon someone's tight kitchen table --with six stools. That someone is Jodie Royston, owner, barker, bellower, teller of how you shouldn't season anything on your plate before you try it, former chef, person who will tell those who don't know better or who are hesitating that everything is cooked to order. It's best to not get on Jodie's bad side, cause he and his tight-knit bunch may swiftly kick you out the door.
So I was the newbie. I did sit there, not knowing what to expect, and quickly earned both the approbation and annoying fussing by the regulars, who that morning obviously knew each other for years. They must meet here weekly. They trade stories about their vacations; they pass on stories second hand and don't get all the facts right. They get the names of whomever they're discussing as they butter toast wrong. One unsuspecting newbie walked in and said he was "hunky dory". One regular quickly pulled out her cellphone, looked up the origin of the expression and fussily announced it in the same way that Cliff Claven used to do on "Cheers". I just sat there slackjawed, staring at her whimsical addition to the morning chatter. In any case, the regular bunch talk past Jodie sometimes because he is too busy manning his place and telling everyone who comes in the same old spiel.
Let's get this out of the way --the food was pretty good: I had the Jodie's Special, which consisted of two scrambled eggs, two strips of bacon, a crispy square of hash browns, and a big fluffy, light pancake. $10.25, really a lot of money to be sure, but the dish does include coffee or oj. Jodie asked me about meat and I said bacon; I think he managed to say I could have had chicken wings. Chicken and eggs? Really?
So you're going to feel incredibly cloistered, claustrophobic and watched in the most uncomfortable way.....until they accept you as "one of them".
Some definite minuses:
**The wait time is absolutely unacceptable. I was customer #5 that day and it took 35 min for me to get my order. I can imagine how long it would take if you get there later, but wait, there may be no place to sit in the first place!
**Which begs the question: there are only six stools! One griddle. It's not that hard to whip up these dishes!
**Who's the tough guy/hired hand/bodyguard who greets you, motions you to do this or that, then parks himself with a group of regulars, until he gets up again?
**Charles the grandson cook will say hi to you. ("Hi Charles") But he will take a few pictures of almost every dish before they get sent out to the diner. Yes! He takes his camera out for no apparent reason. Training? Evidence to present at a trial?
**Coffee just isn't worth it. Big red can of Folger's. A place this kooky and homey should have stronger coffee to keep diners patient.
**Jodie's constant, never-ending nattering ---checking on you, "want more coffee?", "don't season!", needling, and stories of how he used to be a cook can really wear thin after just 5 minutes. If you're the type that gets on an airplane and puts on blindfolds to be left alone, this is really not your type of place. Then again it you can be really gregarious and have nifty stories to spin as you forget you're starving because Charles is busy taking out the frozen hash browns from the fridge.
*Butter? Nope. Can't have that! They use "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter". Cost cutting? You'd think they charged only $5 per plate. Nope...all of the dishes are in double digits price-wise.
*For some reason you have to leave the tip in cash. What if you don't have cash? Jodie will take your plastic but he will instruct you not to add more than what is on the bill. Nope! May lightning strike you if you don't have a few dollars to leave as a tip. You will incur the wrath of Jodie for sure.
Tip: go walk around the corner and walk into Royal Grounds coffee, a grab a pastry, read your paper and have a much calmer meal.
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