Skyline Cafe in Mena, AR
Father's Day Breakfast
So many of Don's 35 Father's Day celebrations, have been spent on the road.
This year, we woke up on Sunday morning in a small Arkansas town. Our grown kids were far away and there wasn't much happening in Mena, but we found a mighty fine diner to start the day.
We spotted The Skyline Diner, the day before.
It was a warm afternoon in June, when we arrived in Mena. We had a fun time wandering to town from our Airbnb. I've never seen such a quiet downtown, on a Saturday evening.
By dinnertime, we spotted the little cafe with a Closed sign on the door. It looked like our favorite kind of diner, with a red bench in front and a newspaper vending machine.
Skyline had closed at 2 that day, but if we'd been able to hold off for 11 hours, we could have enjoyed some eggs and coffee, when they opened in the morning!
We didn't arrive when the doors opened at 5:30 a.m.
But, we were there about 3 hours later. The sign said Open and there was no line out the door.
Dad Day Busy
Who knows if that morning was a typical Sunday at Skyline, but it was full. At 8:30 a.m., we could have been looking at the usual pre-church crowd. Or maybe all the dads in Mena chose Skyline breakfast over church, on Father's Day.
We were happy to wait for a table and enjoy some people watching.
While I studied the dining room, I sensed that we were the only non-locals in the restaurant.
Then, I studied the map by the cash register and realized travelers have come to Skyline, from places a lot further away than Texas! We didn't bother to add a pin.
There were so many old photographs in the cafe. I wanted to study them all. But that would have been awkward, leaning over folks, as they tried to eat their biscuits or omelets.
One table cleared and I dashed over to get a look at this old photo of Mena Street, from about 90 years ago. A man at a nearby table chuckled to see me take this photo.
Mena Street Today
I could spot the cafe and Mercantile, in the vintage photo. Mena Street looked similar in 2021, except fewer cars. In fact we saw no cars at all, on Saturday night.
I wish I'd spotted a photo of the cafe from 2009, when a tornado came through and destroyed much of the town. I didn't see a photo, but I saw a framed news clipping, telling how the town pulled together to rebuild the cafe.
Don and I were finally seated. I took a look at the menu cover, before checking out the food options. You know you're in a small town cafe, when you have to pay cash.
I wondered how many photos they went through, before they decided this one should be featured on their menu.
No Church Clothes
The diners in the cafe didn't seem to be dressed in church clothes or motorcycle clothes. It was a casual crowd that kept the 3 servers very busy. Too busy for my small talk or silly questions.
What would I have asked a server or diner, if I'd had the nerve to interrupt? Maybe I would have asked, "How many times would you guess that you've eaten in this cafe?" If I'd added up the answers, I'm guessing it would be 1,000.
I read this little sign, back near the kitchen.
I'm guessing this was a little joke. But who knows. It's hard to tell.
This Old Dad had one of his favorite breakfasts.
He had an omelet and taters and a big slice of ham. No it was not the best breakfast in all the world, but he was quite satisfied.
I don't love grits or gravy, but I always feel like I have to order them when I'm in a small town cafe at breakfast. Again, it wasn't the best breakfast ever, but I appreciated the simplicity of my plate. Look at that nice little oval plate with all those round things.
Our check arrived and I had to smile. Two breakfasts for less than $10!
Well, we didn't get coffee for 75 cents like the sign said. Oh well.
We were headed towards the door by 9:30. Would this go down as a memorable Father's Day breakfast adventure? Would I remember this place at all in 10 years?
I guess I can't call it an adventure when we didn't have a good chat with a stranger. We didn't try any daring foods. We didn't see any outlandish decor or happenings. But we had a meal at a cafe that survived the Great Depression. It narrowly survived a tornado. The cafe also survived the pandemic. So for that I offer, "3 Cheers for Skyline Cafe!"
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The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.