Profile: Salem Diner

Today I woke up a few hours later than I’m used to for breakfast. By the time I had opened my eyes Monday morning, it was already 9:30. That may seem just fine for many, but at home I usually eat as soon as I wake up since there’s food already prepared. Plus, I’m so used to grabbing a bowl of cereal from the dorm I live in.  Knowing I had to prepare to go outside and find a place to eat this time, I immediately showered after crawling out of bed and made a final decision as to where to go. I initially decided to go to an irish place near Tavern In The Square that my friend Tom mentioned to me. He told me “their pancakes are bomb.” (That means they taste great in case you weren’t sure.) So I took my truck, drove downtown and…I got lost in traffic. I couldn’t find where this place was, I didn’t know the name of it and I didn’t see a parking spot available, nor did I feel like parking just to look for it. That’s when I told myself, “Screw it! Salem traffic stinks. I’m going to the Salem Diner.”

Located in Salem, MA, the Salem Diner is a small diner next to Loring Liquors and across the street from Salem State University’s Viking Hall. In terms of it’s size, the Diner is not much bigger in length than the size of the grey campus shuttle buses. It’s a round, oval-shaped building painted in beige, navy and white. A neon “OPEN” sign can be seen from the right window by the entrance. When you walk in, you get an old-fashioned vibe out of it, despite it being mostly unattractive from the outside. Boston sports memorabilia was featured in the form of stickers placed on the main door on the inside, and pictures hanged on the walls around the interior.

Although this place is small, it isn’t cramped. At least not for the customers. From left to right, teal cushioned seats fit for two on each side of the tables surround the place along with the transparent glass front counter lined up with similarly colored single seats. I sat at the counter by myself. The doors were pink, and the entire roof had a curve. Underneath the transparent glass at the front counter were various condiments and supplies for the employees in case anyone wanted something extra with their food. In between the counter and the back room where the bathrooms are located is a skinny main aisle where most of the staff is found either taking orders for front counter customers, working the fridge, cleaning or cooking the food with the open fryer. I sat at the counter by myself. I was given a friendly greeting by one of the employees. I didn’t think to observe the cook after I ordered chocolate pancakes as they were delivered to me in what felt like less than ten minutes. That was probably the quickest I had ever received a meal at any food establishment thanks to the size of the diner and the fact that not every seat had a customer sitting in it. The chocolate pancakes came in threes almost completely covering an oval-shaped plate with a small amount of white sugary powder sprinkled on top of each pancake. I only ate one and a half pancakes out of three so they are very filling. My server gave me a box to store the rest of it in for later.

The atmosphere of the Salem Diner was a bit dull, but relaxed. I remember hearing instrumental music that I couldn’t quite make out due to the low volume of the radio, but it sounded like some sort of piano music. The employees seemed nice and provided great service, working at a steady but quick pace. The pricing was affordable. For a tall glass of apple juice and a plate of three chocolate pancakes, I paid only $9.37 plus a $3 tip.

This would be the fifth time I have been to The Salem Diner and although the first couple of times I went there weren’t enjoyable because of nausea due to the smells in the building and painfully long waiting times, this time I enjoyed my visit even though I was alone. It seems like they changed the way they work ever since my freshman year. This might be because of a change in staff. I recommend this place to anyone visiting Salem for a couple days and to any SSU student not just for breakfast, but also for lunch and dinner. Despite the unattractive outside, the quick service and affordable prices make it a convenient, decent place to eat at any time. It just goes to show that looks aren’t everything after all.