Wade’s Diner serves breakfast with something extra

"On a seemingly mundane drive along State Route 104, a flock of chain restaurants seems to follow me as I go. Calling out with their siren song of neon lights and catchy jingles, these restaurants draw crowds with flashy advertising distributed from headquarters and supposed appeal. Bright banners sprawled in the storefront offer a special that the public assumes is a bargain, disregarding personal preference for what the large sign told them they should eat.

"Many times, as soon as the lure of the quick establishment has begun to fade, their doors shut, only a facade of deceit lying in its wake. On a recent trip down Rt. 104, I saw that the Arby’s restaurant had been closed, though it was fully operational a few days prior. The hustle and bustle and the signs proudly proclaiming the merits of their roast beef sandwich were now gone. The cookie-cutter building that had become identifiable with the brand nationwide still remains a mere shell of its former self.

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"Then, just a mile on down the road is Wade’s Diner, a small eatery on the east side of town. Almost indistinguishable among the working-class houses that line both sides of the street, the diner blends in perfectly with its surroundings. Instead of using glitz like the fast food establishments to draw in crowds, a tilted black sign stands next to the restaurant. Only the "W" and "D" lights in the sign still remain, but for a restaurant that is only open from 6 a.m. until noon, such lights are not a necessity. If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you might miss it.

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"With one step inside, the perfume of griddled pancakes, sizzling meat, and brewed coffee clings to you in a way reminding you of Sunday breakfast. Along the narrow counter-top, where men and women from all walks of life gather to catch up on the latest news, stories and the goings-on, hearty and substantial breakfasts are served to eager customers, as they watch their food prepared at the flat-top only feet away.

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"Like a synchronized team performing a time-tested technique, the men and women behind the grill move with a level of such grace rarely seen outside the Olympics. Balancing platters of eggs and bacon, slinging hash browns and perfectly timing their signature raisin bread in the toaster, these unconventional, yet perfectly sensual cooks make joyous work of such a demanding task.

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"A step into the quaint dining room is a flashback to your mother’s kitchen of many years ago. Though the room had only 12 booths, energy and chatter filled the small area, expanding it to a size far bigger than its actual dimensions. I watched as whole families squeezed into one booth, surely not a comfortable fit, but the homey atmosphere made it almost comforting.

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"A quick scan of the dining room revealed that the customers were largely families and older couples, locals in the area un-intimidated by the flashy call of the perhaps now-closed competitor. In the booth next to me, a family sat, their young daughter eagerly anticipating her delicious breakfast. Though the waitress that guided the family to the booth was juggling many different orders and tables at the same time, she took the time to notice that the young girl had grown since the family had last been there. A small gesture, but not one that went unnoticed. Having at least five different table orders to take care of, a list she kept entirely in her head (without any aid from a ticket) the delicious chaos was not enough to distract the for the waitress from noticing the seemingly insignificant, yet extremely important things.

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"Finally, after a short wait, my food arrived. My chocolate chip pancake laid before me, accompanied with a side of corned beef hash. I had been warned that I need only one pancake to make a meal, advice I am glad I adhered to. Nearly a foot in diameter, the gigantic, yet perfectly tender and fluffy pancake was cooked to perfection, timed perfectly by the cook juggling at least a dozen other orders at the same time.

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"On this trip, my dining companion ordered a bacon, broccoli and cheese omelet, served with home fries and toast. Though she took a few bites of the omelet and proclaimed it as delicious, our waitress quickly rushed over to make sure she had the right one. Though it escaped her eye, her omelet was actually ham and cheese; still delicious, but not what she had ordered. Without hesitation, the waitress instantly replaced the wrong omelet with a fresh one, filled with smokey bacon and fresh broccoli. With a smile, she delighted at the fresh omelet in front of her, an error the waitress would refuse to allow, even if we did not notice.

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"As I take a bite of my succulent homemade corned beef hash, I notice a large chunk of sausage in it. A bonus addition I thought, but it meant much more than that. It was a tasty imperfection, something that reminded me that this food is prepared fresh, by loving and caring hands, by someone who gives a damn about the food they prepare. Nothing was thaw-and-serve, as it is with so much food today. Was the hash perfect? No. It was something more than that.