The diner’s ambience is definitely retro, with touches like candy-striped support posts and mannequin heads in the shop window. Behind the counter, signs from the original diner list items like 19¢ hot dogs and 20¢ draft beers. The menu, however, adds a modern twist to traditional diner fare with dishes like the BLTAE, a classic BLT with a fried egg and avocado, or catfish with corn cakes and pecan sauce.
Other menu favorites include the hangover helper with scrambled eggs, bacon, Italian sausage, potatoes, pepperjack cheese, avocado, and salsa. Another customer favorite, “smac and cheese,” was named tongue-in-cheek for the neighborhood’s former reputation as hangout for drug dealers. Even the restaurant’s name draws on the history of the area, which has long been known to locals as “The Nickel.”
In addition to the satisfying food, the diner’s success stems from a solid partnership between the co-owners. Not only do they have a lot in common, but they also capitalize on different strengths. Trattner handles the brand and the financial end of the business, while May is the chef. Both are serious about customer service, and can be found in the dining room at all hours, checking up on diners’ experiences and making small talk. Another reason for the diner’s popularity is Pastry Chef Sharlena Fong, who has developed a large and enthusiastic fan base with such delectable goodies as her maple bacon donut and homemade pop tarts.