Friday, May 18, 2007

Cindy's Diner

Cindy’s Diner
830 S Harrison St
Fort Wayne, IN, 46802

While looking up the address of this diner, I came across the following article about Fort Wayne being American’s Dumbest City. It’s tangental at best, but worth reading.

So anyway, I was paying my gentleman friend Don Piano a visit in Fort Wayne for a while, and on my last day, May 10th, we decided to head over to Cindy’s Diner for breakfast. I’d come across the out-of-place little prefab diner while he and I, bored out of our gourds, decided to wander around downtown Fort Wayne on a Sunday afternoon. There’s not much of note downtown — the diner and an amazing perpetually-growing mechanical loaf of bread on a billboard were the highlights for me, though there’s also a new library in a building resembling an airplane hangar, a Rally’s, and a Taco Bell.

Cindy’s is somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 seats, all at the counter. We were asked what we wanted to drink almost as soon as we sat down. I got diet Coke and Mr. Piano got regular Coke, as we both enjoy a good soda with our morning meal, especially if our morning meal is around 11AM. I ordered a two eggs, potato, toast, and meat item combo, gladly giving my companion my sausage patties, while Mr. Piano chose to sample the hotcakes and meat platter. In classic diner style, the food was cooked not more than a few feet away from us, and I was pleased to watch my two eggs being cracked and scrambled and Mr. Piano’s hotcakes being poured onto the grill. Also, the potato item, which I’m fairly sure the menu called “American fries,” were Midwest-style sliced homefries, which also pleased me. I have a devotion to determining the exact boundaries of the homefries region — it doesn’t seem to extend to New York City or Philadelphia, and I’ve only ventured as far as Fort Wayne and Milwaukee in the other direction.

In any case, our food was quickly served and consumed. The homefries qualify as definitive — not overcooked or overly greasy, slightly salty, and pleasantly flavorful. I would rank only the homefries offered by Cleveland’s Expressway Diner over these. The eggs were also surprisingly good — I usually need to eliminate any egg flavor with ketchup to make it tolerable outside of a cheese omelette, but these were light, fluffy, and very edible. The toast was also enjoyable, as toast should be. I have every indication that Don Piano also enjoyed his meal, but my recollection of his experience is blurred by the events which followed.

Not remembering that Cindy’s has a strict no-credit-card policy, Mr. Piano had to visit an ATM after his meal to acquire some cash, wisely leaving me in the restaurant as collateral. I sat quietly and absent-mindedly stared at the TV for what seemed like an awfully long time for a grown man to travel a city block and return, noticing a few cop cars rushing down the street outside in the meanwhile. A customer came in and asked if anyone knew what was going on down the street — apparently a large number of Fort Wayne’s finest and their automobiles had congregated outside the downtown branch of the Wells Fargo. Moments later, I noticed my gentleman friend returning to the diner, and the waitress said, “Well, we’ll ask this guy, he just got back from the bank!”

From what Mr. Piano could piece together, someone had attempted to rob the bank. He had driven to the ATM, and was pulled over by the police on the way, who also attempted to pull over a car in front of him. In a sequence of events I could at best misremember, Mr. Piano heard an officer behind him pump a shotgun and later saw the police putting a man in handcuffs in a police car. All of this was quite strange for Mr. Piano, but he managed to get his required funds and make it back to the diner in one piece. He was the star of the diner for a brief period, but we quickly paid and departed.

All in all, it was probably the most interesting event in downtown Fort Wayne this year, and I ate breakfast the day after my birthday a block away with the man who saw it.

Oh yeah, and Cindy’s has an old-fashioned donut machine, the product of which I hope to sample at a later date.

$ (dirty cheap just like the rest of Fort Wayne)

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