Wednesday, November 4, 2009

What’s up with the oatmeal pancakes?

The food can do all the talking at the Mini Mac Drive-in Restaurant and Diner on Route 206 in Chester. The friendly chatter from the friendly staff is a bonus.

"Our coffee is the best around," says Teri Petriw, who's just one of the many workers at this fun diner. "I don't care what QuickChek says on those radio stations."

Teri's mother, Anna Bartek, has owned the place since 1975.

"It used to be a Stewart's," Bartek says. "It was closed for I think, two years, and then we re-opened it up. I just made it as a Mini Mac."

The origin behind the name is almost as humorous as its employees: "Well, at the time, I was thinking about how everything was mini — minimall, mini this, mini that — so I thought, oh, we're going to have Mini Mac's. So then, we had the miniburger, but McDonald's was advertising Miniburgers (back in the '80s), so we had to stop."

While they're not selling miniburgers any more, they have enough on their menu to satisfy any early morning or afternoon craving.

"We have a good breakfast menu," says Bartek, who makes most of the food alongside her children. "Our home fries are good, and we have good coffee. And our lunches — most of the stuff I make fresh, like the meatloaf."

Petriw adds: "We run specials every day. We have our homemade soups. Lunch is usually a Philly cheesesteak with fries. We try to run a hot platter with mashed potatoes and a vegetable. We have real good burgers, dogs.

"It's kind of home cooking, kind of what you might have at your mother's house. We have very good soups."

The vegetable soup, made by Bartek, who is of Ukrainian descent, is a favorite with customers. Most intriguing on the menu are the oatmeal pancakes, which is something that not many diners serve.

"What we do is we make the batter, and then we put uncooked oatmeal into the batter," Petriw explains. "I've never seen it anywhere but with us. They're excellent and they're tasty."

Even better than the food itself may be the price, as Mini Mac is truly affordable in these tough economic times.

"You can get eggs, toast, home fries and coffee for $4.95 — under $5," Petriw says.

And while the seating area isn't huge, it's comfortable, with tables and chairs and a deer head that hangs over the entrance doorway.

The eatery is open seven days a week, which means that Petriw and company don't really get much time to enjoy the scenery in Chester, because they devote themselves to the diner and its customers.

"We are in Chester, so I'm kind of in my own little world here," Petriw says. "I don't really get out. We're open seven days a week."

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