Across the street from my house is the Fat Boy restaurant. It’s a greasy spoon dive, and it LOOKS like one. It has a slighty rusty sign that the neon has long ago been broken out of, dirty looking paint job, and it used to have a beat-up old sign that said “Best Olive Burger In Town”. I’ve never eaten there, primarily because it looks like a “heart attack on a plate” kind of place.
On the other hand, the cops eat there. There’s a liquor store in the same strip, and I was worried when we moved there about crime, but then I noticed that very often there are 5 cop cars parked in the lot. My dad always told me that when I’m looking for a place to eat in a new town, find out where the cops eat, because they know.
Not only do the cops eat there, but the plow truck drivers do too. Since they can really only get one truck in the parking lot, they park in the street, so on snowy days in the winter, along about noon there are about 15 plow trucks parked on our street. WHY they don’t drop their blades and PLOW my street, I’ll never know.
Once long ago I walked over and got a take-out breakfast for my wife. It was exactly what I expected; smoky, greasy, but good food. A heard a neighbor kid once say that he was going there for a shake, and it occured to me that it’s exactly the kind of place that would have good shakes.
And now to the point, the thing that prompted this post. This morning we again didn’t have anything in the house for breakfast, and my wife wanted some, and I needed to leave for work fairly soon. The girls are at Grandma’s this week, so we walked together to Fat Boy to get her take-out.
There’s a new ice-cream bar, it’s Breyer’s, good stuff. It wasn’t real smoky, but it had that smell of a smoker’s restaurant. A nice older lady took our order, and a beefy looking younger guy immediately started in on it at the grill. We went over and sat in a booth, and I started looking around, and most importantly listening.
There were 15 or 16 people in the restaurant, and I think the only ones without gray hair were my wife, the kid at the grill, and the guy pouring coffee for everyone. There appeared to be 2 groups of guys, and a couple loners. The 2 groups would occasionally yell something to each other, so I got the impression that they were only in 2 for the convenience of sitting.
Nearest us were 4 men, the youngest of which was probably 55, the oldest looking about 75. They were discussing golf with an intensity that blocked out everything else. None of them had food, but all of them had coffee and a pack of cigarettes in front of them. They were talking about who would win, Jack Nicklaus or Tiger Woods if they met at the same age. It reminded me VERY much of the arguments in Old Man And The Sea about tha Yankees, and the arguments in the barber shop in Coming To America about Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) or Mike Tyson.
There were boxes of old sporting equipment on the walls, and old metal signs for Nehi Soda and such. It was like they had all the artifical things to make it a “home town” kind of place, but they only made a half hearted attempt, because it was the people in the seats that made it truly a slice of Americana pie.
One of the things that cracked me up about it is when I was doing some online research about it. It’s listed on theAOL CityGuide: Grand Rapids – Best Romantic Restaurants. Those old coots would have gotten a huge kick out of that I think.
One last thing, my wife said the breakfast was excellent, and there was lots of it, for about $5.