The Rusty Grille

I like diners. I may have mentioned it before, but they are one of my favourite things about America. Fast, efficient service offering a good, hearty breakfast, any time of the day. It’s genius. I like the food, and I also like the atmosphere of quiet efficiency. In particular I like scruffy, older diners. I can’t imagine anything bad happening there, or at least nothing that the pragmatic, cynically friendly waitresses couldn’t sort out with an eye roll and a smart quip.

Alas, our local diner, The New Colony, closed for renovations about 18 months ago and then never reopened. Every time we drive past we stare hopefully at it, silently willing there to be signs of life. Sometimes we wave. By now, the building is beginning to slip into a decline and even the sign has developed a bit of a lean. Still, we have not quite given up believing that one day, it will reopen, restored to life in all its former shabby glory.

In desperation meanwhile, we turned to the other nearby diners (and let us interpret nearby loosely, because there is really nothing near my town. So let us say, within a 10 mile radius). So, there was The Four Daughters, a painful diner experience in which it took well over an hour to get food, there were too many people in too little space, getting in each other’s way and generally creating an air of subdued chaos. It has just closed down. There’s the Bluebird Diner, which sells itself as a bit upscale, meaning a more limited menu, for more money, but worse service. Last time I was there it took an hour to get food too. Perhaps we were being left time to bask in the olde worlde country diner experience.

Most recently there was the Rustic Grille. Ah, where to start? Perhaps with the 10-15 minute wait, during which time no one acknowledged our presence at all. A queue built up behind us and a table for  six sat empty and a couple of other tables sat uncleared. Out of curiosity, I asked about the table for six (constructed of three tables for two pulled together) and was told that they couldn’t break it apart because what if a party of six came in? And, ‘That’s the way we do things here.’ During the entire time we were there, those six seats sat empty, shortly to be joined by another six seats and all the while, the queue of people in twos, threes and fours stayed at the door, waiting for smaller tables.

Mike worked in a kitchen for a while and both of us have  horror of inefficiency, so we were rather mesmerised. This was not a well-oiled machine. This was a machine that had not seen oil in some time, had been left overnight in the rain and was rather clogged up with sand. It was obvious that they were short staffed that day and even if it hadn’t been, one of the waitresses made damn sure everyone knew how put upon she was. As Mike put it (and he is not one given to making judgements), you got the impression she was a bitch with a veneer of civility.

They ran out of coffee. That, to me, is like Victoria’s Secret running out of slutty lingerie. You do not run out of the thing that is your raison d’etre. If you’re a diner you particularly do not run out of that thing at 10.30 on Sunday morning. We were promised refills when there was more coffee, but we both had work on Monday and didn’t think we could stick around for it.

And that is how the Rustic Grille became the Rusty Grill.


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7 thoughts on “The Rusty Grille”

  1. I love diners for all the reasons you say. I mostly stopped going to diners because the fare isn’t all that healthy, but every once in a while I get to go again and it’s lovely. When my h and I spent summers in PEI our Sunday mornings were always at the Blue Goose and I was really disappointed when they went out of business.

  2. Sounds like you need Gordon Ramsey over there! I found diners lots of fun when I had a brief holiday in New York, so I feel your pain at the lack of a decent one.

  3. I would cry buckets if my favorite breakfast spot closed. Yes, certainly buckets. I feel for you! And those other alternatives…well, they aren’t really alternatives at all, are they?

  4. There. Is. No. Excuse. For. Running. Out. Of. Coffee. On. A. Sunday. Morning. I don’t know if it’s still there, or is still any good, but we used to enjoy the Sandy Hook Diner. Avoid that other diner in Newtown (whose name is escaping me now. Blue Colony?) like the plague.

  5. ZM – We are in agreement about the importance of coffee in the mornings, I see.

    Lillian – I know the food is not healthy, and the tarnished silver lining to our diner closing is that we eat out a lot less.

    Litlove – I would love to see what Gordon Ramsay made of it!

    Courtney – That is the sad thing. No reasonable substitute has been found.

    Emily – we tried the Sandy Hook once, and I think it is still there. It’s a bit of a hike but worth bearing in mind.

  6. Good to know where not to go! The diner in Bethel (Jacqueline’s) is just okay — actually I only ate there once because we always go to O’Neil’s instead. Jacqueline’s hamburgers weren’t great, but I know that’s not exactly a worry for you!

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