A young woman named Heather comes in and is greeted with a chorus of Hons and Tootses from the other employees. She used to work here, she says, liked getting to know the customers on a personal level and, despite the occasional drama, became good friends with many of her coworkers. Heather left Uncle Bill's, though, because she "needed something better."

Over the clinking of clean utensils, fresh out of the dishwasher, a customer lobs a question: "Betty, do you ever go home?" "Never," Betty replies.

And up at the hostess station, sixteen minutes later, a man requests an application for employment.
Kristie McClanahan


Ronald Hausermann and his daughter-in-law Elizabeth Hausermann. She's been coming to the Buttery for more than 30 years, but this is Ronald's first time.
Ronald Hausermann and his daughter-in-law Elizabeth Hausermann. She's been coming to the Buttery for more than 30 years, but this is Ronald's first time.
Kevin Hadley has worked at the Eat-Rite at Seventh Street and Chouteau Avenue for nine years.
Kevin Hadley has worked at the Eat-Rite at Seventh Street and Chouteau Avenue for nine years.

Location Info

Map

Lumière Place Casino

999 N. Second St.
St. Louis, MO 63102

Category: Casinos

Region: St. Louis - North Downtown

Courtesy Diner

3155 S. Kingshighway
St. Louis, MO 63139

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - Dogtown

The Buttery

3659 S. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63118

Category: Restaurant > Diner

Region: St. Louis - South Grand

Tiffany's Original Diner

7402 Manchester Road
Maplewood, MO 63143

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Maplewood

Courtesy Diner

1121 Hampton Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63139

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - Dogtown

Uncle Bill's Pancake & Dinner House

3427 S. Kingshighway
St. Louis, MO 63139

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - South City

City Diner

3139 S. Grand Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63118

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - South Grand

Eat-Rite Diner

622 Chouteau Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63102

Category: Restaurant > Diner

Region: St. Louis - Downtown

Denny's

1515 Hampton Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63139-3038

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: St. Louis - South City

Coffee Cartel

2 Maryland Plaza
St. Louis, MO 63108

Category: Coffee Shops

Region: St. Louis - Central West End

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More About

Hy-Ho Restaurant (Belleville), 7:03 p.m. It's quiet at the Hy-Ho but not deserted: Five tables of senior citizens wait for dinner. A woman with a white bouffant and a Bluetooth in her ear sits with her husband, both tucking into the meatloaf-and-mashed-potatoes special. There's no conversation. Billy Idol's "White Wedding" rumbles from the kitchen.

Peas and carrots, creamed spinach and brain sandwiches on the menu. It's a breakfast-for-dinner night. There's a little hinged pitcher of fresh cream on the table and a stack of real butter in the dessert case.

"This thing's crap. This salt shaker. There's salt coming out the side," the man at the next table says to his elderly mother. He's disheveled, middle-aged. And frowning. Together they examine the salt shaker, though they've already eaten and had their plates cleared. He wonders if they could get a discount because the salt might have poured onto his $9 rib eye and baked potato.

Dinner's served by the smiling blond waitress. White china plate loaded with buttery eggs over easy, three strips of bacon, rye toast sandwiching a glob of melting butter and a mound of American fries: rounds of small potatoes crisped in butter with golden edges and fluffy centers. The coffee's strong, fresh and doesn't need the help of the cream.

After delivering the order, the waitress stops at the salt shaker table. The mother shows her the shaker, and the waitress apologizes. There is no discount.

"How was the fishing?" a customer inquires of the dishwasher.

"All I got was a snapping turtle. He would have been good for soup, but I hate cleaning those things."

Two young women with bare midriffs, just seated next to the turtle conversation, order Dr Peppers, snickering and snapping.
— Robin Wheeler


Lisa's Diner (Granite City), 8:41 p.m. Smoking is not permitted in Lisa's Diner. It's Illinois state law, but in Granite City, it's a nod to the obvious: Even the most grizzled chain smoker can't compete with U. S. Steel. The mill belches plumes of smoke into the drizzle-spattered night, blue flames jetting like the earth's own exhaust.

Inside Lisa's you can escape the mill's noxious fumes but not its shadow. A quiet night: a few customers, the kitchen running short (no applesauce, no cauliflower, no chicken wings), the TV playing a countdown of heavy-metal icons on VH1. A guy picking up a to-go order recognizes a fellow mill worker, and once they introduce themselves and establish mutual friends, a conversation ensues, meandering from the merits of a math teacher in a class the mill offers to the mill's security — there's mention of "Barney Fife" and of an incident in which no one, miraculously, ended up shot — to the perilous state of the economy. "It's not just the U.S., it's the whole world."

The guy with the to-go order says he should get his food home. Soon the other mill worker and his tablemate, who said nothing throughout this conversation, stand to leave. The tablemate wears a red T-shirt with Romans 1:16 inscribed on the back: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."
— Ian Froeb


SUNDAY

City Diner, 12:10 a.m. "Hey Joe" has come on the jukebox for the second time in twenty minutes, but nobody seems to mind the repetition. Waves of laughter ripple up and down the row of booths along one wall, ebbing and flowing between couples and groups. It quickly grows quiet as one group gets its check, then another. A couple walks in, wearing matching fishing hats, red with a blue-plaid band. They slip into a recently vacated booth, sitting together on one of the benches. Iconic piano chords fill the air.

Just a small town girl....

It is their second meal out of the night, and they smile sheepishly when they talk about their dining proclivities, all the while thinking of other places you just have to go. Diane, 55, lives in Maplewood. She wrinkles her nose at the thought of the food at the adult daycare where she knits and crochets with clients. "It's disgusting and unhealthy."

Just a city boy....

Gerald, 63, lives near Hodak's. His eyes are bright blue, set in a smooth face that belies his age. His hands are animated, tripping across the tables as he talks about his daughter and new grandson.

For a smile they can share the night....

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