Highway 64 Diner Experience
The signs were all there and it was simply too good to ignore: there was not only a restaurant named for our project, but it was merely a little over an hour away. A road trip was clearly called for! We talked to the owners about a visit, set aside a pretty October afternoon, and struck out from campus to get onto Highway 64 and find our way to our target for the day, the Route 64 Diner.
The Route 64 Diner is conveniently located on Highway 64 between Asheboro and Lexington in a quaint rural setting near the Uwharrie River crossing the highway. In past lives, the building had housed several establishments including a BBQ restaurant, and a bar, and was revamped into a family restaurant with its current diner theme only recently. After working there for a year, the new owners bought the establishment and have turned it into a local hotspot with a loyal following.
The owners, Tara, and Jon Snow are transplants from upstate New York who moved here a few years ago to make a new start away from the brutal winters and high taxes of their home state. They brought with them their young family and lots of experience in the restaurant business as Tara had been an executive chef for 17 years. Traditional Italian influences were their strengths, and they built the initial menu around such items as their famous spaghetti, meatballs, meatloaf, as well as burgers, and quickly realized that serving breakfast all day was also a big hit. But the challenges of adapting to the expected foods of their adopted state were intimidating—at first. Soon, they turned to their new friends and employees for help and soon branched into local favorites such as biscuits and sausage gravy, fried catfish, chicken livers, and the ubiquitous sweet tea. Tara admits she had never heard of sweet tea before moving to NC, but now serves at least 10 gallons a day! They also reached out to friends and relatives to educate them on the intricacies of NC BBQ and have now established themselves as a destination for Lexington-style fare. They buy all their meat locally and try to adjust their menu to fit the needs of their customers, both in menu variety and value. One of Snow's primary goals is to feed people in an affordable fashion.
After a great chat with the owners and meeting their children and the staff, we settled in to explore the menu. In the following piece, we will discuss our trip, and our interview with Tara, and offer some reviews of the food we sampled on our field trip to our namesake diner!