Take one step into the chrome-covered Diner 23 in Waverly and prepare to be transported back to the ‘50s. Black and white checker print tiles line the floors while strips of neon red lights line the tops of the photo-filled walls. The vintage aesthetic extends to the counter, which offers several shiny, cherry-red stools that match the laminate booths.
A slideshow of the diner’s regulars plays on a television screen. New customers are greeted upon arrival by a friendly wave or an invitation to chat from one of the loyal patrons. Owner Mike Corwin believes people make special relationships while in the diner because of the unique customers. “Sitting and talking to the people, it’s amazing the things they’ve been involved in.”
The diner doesn’t just offer a pleasant atmosphere, but a menu that replicates the taste of the ‘50s. “Diner 23 offers the finest in good, American home cookin’! Belly up to a burger and fries and listen [to] Buddy Holly on the jukebox,” the website proclaims.
The most popular menu items include the Steve Evans sausage, the open-faced roast beef sandwich, Mrs. Corwin’s recipe for vegetable soup, and the beans and cornbread. “There’s times I’ll cook up four pounds of beans a day,” Corwin says.
Despite the retro menu and façade of the building, Diner 23 was built in 2000. However, diners have been in Corwin’s blood for much longer than that. His father used to own an establishment similar to Diner 23. He can remember “old ladies” teaching him to cook when he was five years old, reminding him to wait for the bubbles to pop before flipping over a pancake.
Those childhood experiences inspired him to open Diner 23. “Our customers were like family members. I really missed it,” Corwin says.
Much like Diner 23, the customers of Bush’s Restaurant in Logan are what really make the establishment feel like home. The owner of Bush’s, the oldest locally owned and operated restaurant in Hocking Hills, is Lee Howdyshell. He can often be found in the dining room of his restaurant, greeting his customers. It seems he knows every single one of them on a first name basis.
Treating customers like family, along with food made from scratch, is what he thinks makes the restaurant so unique. “I’m probably noted for [my ability to] take care of people,” Howdyshell says.
Howdyshell, who has been the owner since 1985, likes to think that Bush’s is an “exception to the rule.” They make all their food from scratch, from their pies to their salad dressings.
Their diverse menu is full of everything from Philly cheesesteak to fishtail sandwiches, all at “family” prices. “[We can have] a customer come in every day of the week and not eat the same thing twice,” Howdyshell says.
Bush’s was opened in 1970 by Charlie Bush, who was close friends with Bob Evans. Bush’s sells many of the same items from the original menu to this day. The menu has close ties to family, as well. The Big Ed is named after Charlie’s son Ed and the Sweet Susie named after his daughter, Susie.
Howdyshell started working for Bush when he was 12 years old, scrubbing the walls and floors to make some extra money while his mother was ill. Now, he’s not only the owner, but the cook, the dishwasher, the server—whatever it takes to make the business run smoothly. He works an average of eight to 16 hours a day. Despite the workload, he hopes Bush’s can keep on going for another 50 years. “We may not have a lot of money, but we have a lot of memories.”