The Suburbanite
  • Will work for Food: Lindsey's cranks out the goods

  • Little Lindsey's does a lot.

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  • Call it the little diner that could.
    It’s unbelievable what the mom-and-pop-style eatery known as Lindsey’s cranks out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I witnessed this first-hand recently as I donned a Lindsey’s uniform shirt and ballcap, threw on an apron, and jumped into the early Saturday morning rush.
    As my cover, we told customers I was the “new girl in training.” I followed on the sprightly heels of waitress Michelle Pitsenbarger, an 18-year veteran of eatery at 1900 Tuscarawas St. W. I helped her greet guests, fill coffee, deliver plates, clear tables, all while watching in wonder as this well-oiled machine turned out hundreds of customers’ breakfasts.
    “Customers” is a misnomer. Most evident was that Lindsey’s staff sees diners as much more than patrons.
    Such as 86-year-old Dick, who comes and goes not through the front door, but the kitchen door. He eats at Lindsey’s three times a day. Staff know him like family.
    “Every Friday he gets a four-piece beer batter fish dinner,” said Ernie Adams, co-owner of Lindsey’s. “He always takes one piece home to his dog, Sophie.”
    And there’s Oatmeal Dave.
    “He likes the booth in the corner and always gets two oatmeals,” Michelle said.
    Or Troy Manley, 46, who comes in almost every Saturday. Waitresses know he likes his eggs Benedict with regular bacon. And he rarely sits at a table.
    “I like to sit at the counter,” said Manley, of Plain Township. “Usually I bring my boy, Alex, and we sit at the counter in awe, watching these guys cook.”
    Awe indeed. Magic happens in the narrow epicenter behind the counter, where co-owner Bob Wise and Mark Bryant whip up Lindsey’s infamous breakfast foods.
    At dizzying speed, the pair cook the likes of eggs, pancakes, French toast and hash browns on a five-foot grill top. They dish up plates, adding items such as toast, sausage and bacon, then buzz the waitresses via pager when it’s ready. All while next to each other, spinning and sidestepping from counter to grill to toaster as if in a choreographed dance, never colliding.
    The same is true of the waitresses, who buzz about the snug dining room often with four plates tiered up one arm.
    “I call it organized chaos,” Michelle said. “It’s a small place, but we’re really good at getting people seated and served with hot food.”
    Michelle shared her waitressing secrets. Such as dealing with a cranky customer.
    “Usually once they start eating they get in a better mood,” she said. Don’t take it personally. “Life’s hard. You don’t know what’s going on in their life.”
    Waitressing can feel a lot like eavesdropping, I told her.
    Page 2 of 2 - “In one ear and out the other,” she said. “I’ve heard some crazy stuff. Don’t repeat. Never repeat.”
    Tips? The average at breakfast is $2 per two-top, Michelle said. Sometimes more, sometimes zip.
    “Some people can’t. Some people won’t. You can’t look at it like that,” she said. “You’ve just got to like people no matter what.”
    Michelle confided what she would make that day, but privacy is waitress code. Let’s just say, it can be good money. Her all-time biggest single tip was $100.
    “Three women came in and I think they had just won the lottery,” she said.
    After a few hours of training, I went solo.
    Remember what I said about Lindsey’s feeling like family? I can’t make this stuff up. I waited on a random couple who adores the place. Canton firefighter Ron Jevcak and wife Daria, ages 46 and 32, respectively, had their first date at Lindsey’s a few years ago.
    They got married in December of 2011, and after saying their vows in a firehouse ceremony in front of the chaplain, guess where they headed, he in his dress blues and she in her day gown? Yep, Lindsey’s. They were so likable, I bought their breakfast.
    Truth be told, from the minute I walked in the door until I “clocked out,” I too, felt part of the family. The owners, waitresses, busboys and customers were among the warmest group of people I’ve encountered in all my years at The Repository. I could easily see myself working there.
    And get this. I even got a tip. Oatmeal Dave handed Michelle $3, and said, “Give one to the new girl.”
    Job: Breakfast waitress.
    Hired by: Lindsey’s Restaurant in Canton.
    Bosses: Owners Carol and Ernie Adams, Bob Wise, and Kenny Billman.
    Trainer: Waitress Michelle Pitsenbarger.
    Pay: The best sausage gravy I’ve ever eaten, served over crispy hash browns; a Belgian waffle with strawberry sauce; and eggs Benedict Lindsey’s style, with cheese sauce instead of Hollandaise.
    Job performance: “I’d seriously consider hiring you.” — Ernie Adams.

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