When I arrived late-morning on a Friday, the diner was busy. A woman behind the counter, a manager better known as “Tink,” greeted me from across the counter. A woman with three young children had just arrived for an early lunch. The mom giggled as she placed their order, “I think we might get parasols!” Sure enough, when the order arrived, she was right. It was as magical an experience for her as it was for her kids. I asked Tink if they put parasols on everything. “Everything! It’s all about the fun factor.” A construction worker in his early 20s rushed in on his break, “…a cookie, Tink, what should I get?” She responded, “If you’re taking it to go, get a sugar cookie. If you’re dunking it in milk, you want chocolate chip.” Suddenly not seeming rushed, he sat at the counter, and, with obvious pleasure, ordered a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk. Being impressed and overwhelmed with the variety of juice choices, I did what everyone else seemed to do: asked Tink for help. She recommended fresh-squeezed apple juice with ginger. The ginger gave the apple juice a memorable kick that made me want to experiment with it on my own.
Breakfast and lunch is served every day during hours of operation (they’re closed on Mondays): Tuesday-Friday from 7:00am-3:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00am3:00pm. Weekly specials are posted on the Liberty Hill Diner Facebook page. As I was leaving, Hannah and her mother Sorrel came in for Hannah’s 22nd birthday. The family has been coming to the diner since it opened. Knowing she could have gone anywhere for her birthday, I asked Hannah why she chose the Liberty Elm Diner: she immediately smiled, “I love the visual atmosphere and the food is great. This place is artsy and still totally ‘diner.’” The Liberty Elm Diner 777 Elmwood Avenue Providence, RI 02907 401-467-0777 www.libertyelmdiner.com
Since opening ﬁve years ago, the Liberty Elm Diner has “morphed into what it is today.” Initially they only served coffee and baked goods. “We’ve grown with our customers,” Tink smiled as she took a long look down the diner counter. “People come into a diner wanting food. That’s what we’ve become. When old timers come in, their noses turn up at the sight of the espresso machine. They feel better after looking at the menu and deciding to order a ‘Good ol’ Bowl of Oatmeal’ or a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. This place has a vibe all its own.” During the week, a typical cross-section of customers includes the working crowd, area residents, and college students. On weekends, “travelers, friends, and families” become the diner’s patrons. Tink says of college students, “Once they’ve found us, they’re repeat customers. They come in initially with their families on an orientation weekend or a visit. After they graduate, they come in again with their own babies. They keep rediscovering us.” The Liberty Elm Diner got a huge boost in July 2009 when Guy Fieri visited from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. “Since the show aired in March 2010,” Tink said, “our customer base has doubled. Someone who lives down the street came in one day and said, ‘A cousin in New Jersey told me about you.’ As long as we are open, the show will be aired. Every time that happens, there’s an uptick in business.”
Guy’s Turkey Sandwich
Foodies of New England
Published on Sep 1, 2012