leonard’s cherry knoll

Yesterday we stopped for dinner at a true greasy spoon.

A decades old faded sign marked the rundown building sitting in the dead middle of a massive, empty, poorly paved and potholed parking lot. A derelict pumping station on the back edge of the huge lot, and plenty of room for truckers to pull off on the muddy curtain.

Inside was that sort of brokedown familiar, you can probably see the joint in your mind’s eye before I even describe it. Walls and floors ala manufacturered home. Brown water stains swirl on the acoustic ceiling tiles. Counter straight ahead with stool seating, tickets hung in the kitchen window, tables in ordered rows in the open space and walls lined with booths, menus stacked near the register.

All the furniture of the sort that surely was the #1 selling brand to diner owners across America in the early 1970s. The penultimate diner booth: metal edging around the flecked-top laminate table, faux leather benchs, that black napkin dispenser with a layer of dust on top.

Nothing looks particularly clean, but maybe that’s just age. This place is established. I overhear the single waitress ask, “the usual?” at two different tables, exchanging pleasantries with the regulars.

There’s a board with specials on either side of the house, nice handwriting. Today there’s a choice of soups: ham & cabbage or ground beef macaroni tomato. You can get a cup of either with a tuna melt for $8. There’s also baked chicken, potatoes, and green beans or a chicken club sandwich, both also $8.

I opt for the tomato soup and tuna melt. It’s toasted white bread with a slice of cheese-food on either side, chunk tuna and mayo in between. I’m not even a big fan of tuna, but it feels right to order this here… like the institution demanded it. Ate it all gone, tipped 20%.

I’m not sick today so there’s that.

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