Triple Nickel Diner is a cozy farm-to-table restaurant in the heart of Morgan County. Run by a mother-daughter duo, it’s packed every day with residents of Chesterhill and tourists looking for hidden gems. Serving comfort food made with local ingredients along with a family atmosphere, Triple Nickel Diner has become a popular destination.
The restaurant is owned by Kathy Strode, who started off as an organic gardener. A lot of the produce that is used in the dishes served at the diner is grown in a garden right behind the building. She oversees the kitchen, while her daughter, Rosie Cerardi, takes care of the dining room. Right next to the front door is a picture of Strode’s father. “It was his idea to open the diner,” she says. Her father, Howard Strode, was known as a prolific gardener in Morgan County, and he had a huge influence on her gardening.
The dining area is large and bathed in sunlight, with mismatched chairs and rustic flower vases scattered around the room. The wooden furniture and dim, yellow overhead lights create the atmosphere of being in a friend’s house. The feeling is only deepened with Strode’s simple, homecooked dishes and warm smile. Many of Strode’s vegetables also come from the Chesterhill Produce Auction, a weekly event that helps support nearby farmers, including the Amish community. “The food here is all local, the produce is from a 3-mile radius and the meat comes from just 5 miles away,” Strode says. Her Indian Legend Burger is made with meat from local bison. Even the buns are homemade.
A door from the restaurant’s kitchen leads to a dark pantry stocked from floor to ceiling with sauces, spices, meats and dairy—all of which were made by Ohio businesses. “I wanted to offer the community some of their local foods instead of having it trucked in,” Strode says. Even on a sleepy Friday afternoon, the diner is bustling with activity. Cerardi is so busy cooking orders she can’t talk. When the diner is open, it is packed with people from the community milling about and munching on Strode’s pancakes and eggs. But perhaps the diner’s biggest achievement is the jobs it provides to the community.
“The Triple Nickel Diner is not just a diner,” Kenneth Peters, the president of Chesterhill Village Council, says. “The vision of Kathy Strode encompasses her passion for people and family atmosphere.”
Maybe that was Strode’s goal all along, to create a space like the one her parents once loved—she just accidently ended up creating a successful business, too.
By Purva Indulkar