Thursday, November 25, 2010

Eating out in the Chesters: Mini Mac Diner

While Mini Mac Diner on Route 206 in Chester may be a diner, as its title suggests, it's so much more than that.

"My mother's European, so we do stuffed cabbage and things like that," says co-owner and chef Teri Petriw, who runs the diner with her mother, Anna Bartek. "We also offer pierogis."

Their soups are nothing to sneeze at, either.

"Everything's made pretty much from scratch," Petriw says. "We have chicken noodle (soup), vegetable and split pea. We do barley, we do black bean, we do like a mix."

"We try to do (more soups) as the weather gets colder," Petriw continues. "At least three a day."

Also topping the bill are a variety of treats that you won't even find on the menu, so it pays to talk to the friendly staffers — who would be happy to strike up a conversation with you.

"We make homemade cookies, pies, muffins and turnovers, so we're trying to do more of that for the holiday," Petriw says. "We've had it before, but I think a lot of people just didn't know it because we don't advertise it."

And to go along with that sweet tooth of yours if that last paragraph got you salivating, they also serve ice cream from one of the most popular companies around.

"We have Hershey's hard ice cream," Petriw says. "I picked (Hershey's) because I like their stuff. I used to have it when I was little."

Mini Mac is the kind of establishment that thrives on the reputation of serving breakfast all day, and one of its most popular sellers is the pancakes, which range from the commonplace such as blueberry and corn, to the not-so-commonplace, such as buckwheat and oatmeal.

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

Also not seen at any other local diner is the local bands Mini Mac features once a week.

"Tuesdays, we still have live music here," Petriw says. "Which works out fairly well because we were pretty much quiet (on that day)."

Mini Mac actually used to have even more music during the week, but they decided to pull back on that when more people were coming for the bands rather than the meals.

"We were open until 8:30 at the time," Petriw says. "But I think the people maybe associate the music with drinking. That was the case here, but we didn't want to do the whole BYOB because of the young crowd, and I didn't want any kind of problems. That's why I didn't pursue that kind of part of it."

And that's just fine, because Mini Mac is all about the meals, anyway.

"We decided to just focus on the food," Petriw says.

The eatery is open seven days a week, which means 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."

WHERE: 158 Route 206, Chester
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-8222
HOURS: 5:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday
CUISINE: Home cooking
PAYMENT: Cash or checks
PRICE RANGE: Soups, $2.25 cup, $2.95 bowl; platters, $5.95 to $6.95; breakfast, $2.75 to $7.05; lunch, $2.70 to $6.85
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: It may have a small interior, but a lot of magic is happening in that kitchen back there
ATMOSPHERE: It's close and comfy, so you really feel like you're a part of the family
PARKING: In the lot
OWNERS: Teri Petriw and Anna Bartek

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