More than Just a Diner
A silent slideshow of various customers’ visits to Diner 23 proudly plays on a small television perched above the red eat-in bar. Mike Corwin, owner of this small 50s-style diner in Pike County, has shaken hands with customers from all over Ohio and the world. The slideshow displays every notable or regular customer from the Crown Prince of Napal, Bob Evans, John Kasich and Ted Strickland to Charlie Noel, the owner of Noel’s Market and Carry-out just down the street.
Mike says the people are his favorite part about the restaurant business. Even though Diner 23 boasts a notable guest list, Mike’s inspiration for decorating the diner with photographs of customers came from the Waverly regulars.
Mike’s photographing began with a local who came in to eat with his wife at the same table every day. When his wife died, the man continued to come in by himself each day, sit at the same table and read the Wallstreet Journal. When the loyal customer told the diner staff he was moving, Mike said, “Let me take your picture and I’ll put that picture right there because that’s where you’ve always been.”
Now, just as Mike said, the picture of this regular hangs on the wall above his table. Locals like this come in so habitually every day that their absence causes reason for worry.
“If they don’t come in we call and check on them,” says Mike.
Customer influence also appears on the menu. A 93-year-old man who always ordered little sandwiches of different types inspired the $1.99 variety menu of small barbeque, roast beef, sloppy joe and chicken sandwiches. The man’s picture even appears on the enlarged glossy menu hanging above the bar.
Many others are eternalized on the walls of Diner 23. Hash browns are advertised as served the way a beloved regular always ordered them. A previous cook has her picture next to her favorite creation on the bread pudding advertisement.
When asked what makes his diner unique, Mike gestures out and around him, to where pictures of customers and local news clippings plaster the walls, and says, “us.”