Today marks the final weekend of the Brimfield Festival, a gigantic antique sale in the Massachusetts town it’s named for. Check out what’s happening now via Barb’s Insta. Last year on our trek to this mecca we were fortunate enough to stumble upon the Miss Worcester Diner. Run by two, hard working women, Ariana and Kim, this unassuming spot packs a punch when it comes to breakfast. They specialize in french toast with easily a dozen options deep on the menu. I chose the house special, thick cut bread rolled in Honey Bunches of Oats and then deep fried. You can’t quite anticipate the texture but you can assume the flavor (which still beats your expectations). The combo is a pure winner. A bold, sweet taste is mixed with a crunchy, flavor packed oatey bread. The addition of pure maple syrup, harvested in neighboring Maine, adds a level of glide to the rough and tumble toast. Aside from the story on my plate there were many more narratives unfolding around me.
We walked into a tiny, packed quintessential aluminum 50’s diner. The space was set up with a counter acting as the restaurants spine. On one side a series of banquets filled with delighted diners digging into their food with exuberance and gusto.
On the other side of the counter a thin galley lined with a flat top, fryer and various storage spaces for food, prep supplies, cutlery and plates. Working the 2 foot gutter between the two were Ariana and Kim. Kim tamed the grill while Ariana served it’s offspring. The pair worked in concert the entire time we visited. Small lulls in cooking would give them time to regroup and chat with customers.
In these 2 minute moments I got the sense of what, besides the delicious food, made Miss Worcester a repeat customer magnet. As hard as these women had to work to keep up with the demand and make a profit, they always made time to talk to customers. Their genuine interest in their patrons life, story, problems and victories provided the catalyst for amazing moments to happen in the diner.
We witnessed one of these moments first hand when the father of the family of five in front of us stood up and then quickly bent down on one knee. For the excruciatingly long 7 minutes prior to his move, the entire diner, with exception of the man’s wife, was tuned in to the plan. One order of the signature french toast, one modest diamond ring and one anti-syrup delivery device was destroying the ladies restaurant flow. Ariana raced around trying to maneuver the ring in just the right way so it would get noticed and not eaten by the soon to be engaged mother. Everything else went on hold which backed up Kim and the flat top. Finally the delivery was made and the diner broke out in applause as the man on his knee heard the word “yes” from his blushing bride-to-be.
Worcester is not a wealthy town and Miss Worcester is located deep in the working man’s end. The cliental are blue collar at best. Many patrons seem on the poverty line. The newly engaged family of five possessed signs of being homeless. Realizing this moment was not only their engagement but also a rare luxury of breakfast in a restaurant was a huge thing for me. The warmth and congratulations by the diners towards the couple disregarded their monetary status, stained clothing, family situation and their own personal hunger for their breakfast, sent chills down my spin. Recognizing the humanity in this moment was more important than every bite I had just consumed and every other thing happening in the diner in that hour. Once again, great moments come from eating together.
Miss Worcester Diner
300 Southbridge St, Worcester, MA 01608