An Ode to Diners (And Homestyle Restaurants)

In my book, Winter Wish, Jessie loves to eat at Carlin’s Barn Diner, a homestyle restaurant in her (fictional) town. Jessie isn’t “me,” certainly, and in many ways, she’s not like me at all. (For example she is a runner. Need I say more?) But in this way, in her love for Carlin’s, she is like me. I love diners and small, local restaurants that serve homestyle food.

Some of these places serve breakfast all day. Bacon and eggs, biscuits and toast, and in the South, a choice: “Grits or gravy?” To me, the smell of bacon and coffee is one of the best smells in the world. It is the smell of morning, of a new start. Of grandparents’ houses, and black iron frying pans and coffee pots that made a comforting percolating sound.

If you don’t want breakfast food, you can have a “meat and two” plate, (a meat and two sides), or my preference: a veggie plate. Turnip greens and black-eyed peas. Creamed corn. Deviled eggs. (Not a veggie. I know. But they are one of the choices; suits me!)


And then, of course – as Special Agent Dale Cooper on the TV series, “Twin Peaks” knew so well – there is pie. And coffee. Agent Cooper loved his “slice of cherry pie” and his “strong, black coffee,” but I think, pretty much any kind of pie will do. It’s hard to go wrong with pie. I mean, it’s pie!

pie pic

In the cold, in the rain, on a long road trip, on a dark night in a big city, people can come into a diner, and it’s warm. There is the clink of silverware, the sizzle of the grill. The server who greets you, usually with a smile. Who will talk to you if you’re lonely.

I notice, sometimes, the people sitting at the counter, talking to the cook or the server. Lingering over their meal. I suspect that some of the people who come in every day are there in part to be chatted with, smiled at, recognized.


On the other hand, a diner can be a great place in which to be alone. Well, sort of alone. The idea of writing a song or a poem on a napkin, of drinking endless cups of coffee in the wee hours of the morning may be a cliché, but it is something that happens. I am sure of it. (Okay. . . the writing doesn’t have to be on a napkin.)

A haven. A solace. A too-brightly-lit room, filled with familiar sounds and smells. For me it can be all of the above. As long as the coffee is fresh. . .


About Dixie Minor

A wife, mother, former Teacher, and the author of Winter Wish
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16 Responses to An Ode to Diners (And Homestyle Restaurants)

  1. M-R says:

    Really nice images, Dixie ! 🙂 We never had diners Downunder: the nearest we ever came was to (once) have cafés in the cities – well, in Melbourne, I can say for sure – where you sat in booths and the tables were laminex-topped. They’re long gone now, and their juke-boxes. 😦 They lasted longer in the country towns: when Chic and I used to drive from Sydney to Melbourne and back – not all in one day ! – we had two favourites: one in Goulburn and one in Gundagai. Their ‘cuisines’ were virtually identical:
    (eyes larger than his tummy — but not his wife’s)
    I’ll have… ahh… sausages, bacon, mushrooms, fried eggs, baked beans, chips and toast, please. And a pot of tea. For my wife, the same; except that she likes her eggs scrambled.”

    That sound familiar ? [grin] It was part of a little scene in the very first of the three drafts of my book. Well, two drafts and one finished version. It was rudely excised by the wonderful woman who assessed it ! 😀

    • Dixie Minor says:

      Thank you so much, M-R, for this comment! I am so happy to hear about what you have (or had) in Australia that is comparable. I love your story about what you and Chic ordered! I’m sorry the editor took it out.:( Your order sounds delicious! Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I wonder what time it is there. . . information that I am sure I can Google here in a moment. . . It is pretty neat to think about writing to someone whose time of day or night is so different than where I am. I love it! It is 11:30 PM here.

      • M-R says:

        That means that until next Saturday night, you’re 13 hours behind us. HOWEVER ! – we go off daylight saving then, so until you go ON, you’ll be 12 hours behind. Do you know when it starts for you ?

      • Dixie Minor says:

        We actually just went on it a few weeks ago. We go on now earlier than we used to. Thanks so much for doing the math! It is neat to think about!!

      • M-R says:

        Hokay ! – then we remain 12 hours apart, which is nice and damned neat to work out, eh, Dixie ? 🙂

  2. Dixie Minor says:

    Yes, I like that! I can do that! 🙂

  3. Barbara Hood says:

    I loved your writing and pictures! Made me want to go to a small cafe and do exactly what you said one could do. It’s a great way to be with people, or to be alone and pensive. Keep up the good writing!

    • Dixie Minor says:

      Barbara, thank you so much! You are so very sweet to read my blog and encourage me! I am so glad it made you want to go to a small cafe; I hope you find a good one! Love, Dixie

  4. Harliqueen says:

    What a great post, it just goes to show how important settings can be within fiction 🙂

    • Dixie Minor says:

      Thank you so much! I think one thing that is fun is having your characters be in a setting that I would like to be in! Escape! 🙂 Thank you so much for reading my blog; I am looking forward to reading yours!

  5. You know what I love? Special Agent Dale Cooper and his cherry pie and strong coffee!! Funny to remember that!

  6. bkpyett says:

    Am so pleased to read this as you describe it so that I feel I’m there! Loved the feel of the small town in your ‘Winter Wish’ too!

    • Dixie Minor says:

      Thank you so much, Barbara! I am so glad you liked the small-town feel of Winter Wish. I made up the town-which was fun!- but I really like a lot of these mountain towns that are not far at all for us to drive to-anywhere from an hour to two. I kind of liked “pretending” I really lived there when we came to visit! (I would probably like living somewhere like that, but my husband would never want to move, and it”s close enough to easily visit. . . 😊)

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