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Restaurant Review - Chet's Diner

When I first tried Chet’s Diner, I asked what a “one time” visitor simply had to have.

Chet’s Diner

191 Main Street
Northborough, MA 01532-1623

(508) 393-9403

During the week, it’s always rush-rush-rush out the door. Regular readers know my regular weekday breakfast is at a . On the weekends, I want to slow down, enjoy a breakfast, maybe read the paper (on my BlackBerry – I’m sure everyone thinks I’m playing a game.)

My preference is a good diner; the kind of place where they greet everyone when you come in, and you can sit at the counter and watch the action.

For me, a trip over to Northborough fills the bill…at a place on Rt 20 called Chet’s Diner.

I sat with Jessica Fidrych, the high energy 24 year old who is marking the end of her 1st year of Chet’s Diner ownership as the restaurant enters its 81st year of operation. 

Why would someone from Westborough come all the way over to Northborough on a Saturday morning for bacon and eggs?  Without hesitation, Jess gestured around the restaurant and said, “It’s the Chet’s experience, and that’s hard to describe. It’s a show and a family. You’ll be part of the family when you walk in.”

I can vouch for that. During the 15 minutes of our conversation sitting at a table, Jessica acknowledged customers entering the restaurant 8 times….and gracefully dealt with 6 additional customer interruptions.

The restaurant was opened by Chet Warren in 1931, and some short time later was sold to Paul Strassero. On October 10, 1960 the business was purchased by her grandparents, James and Nancy Pantazis. Jess took over ownership last year, making her the third generation.

What’s been your biggest surprise? “How much work running a business is; I’m an amazing multi-tasker and there’s a lot to do cooking and cleaning. Even though I have been in the restaurant business my entire life, I never saw the other side…payroll, quarterly tax filings, keeping the books (and keeping funds available for the inevitable surprises.) My mom (Ann Pantazis) is a big help with the books and cooking on Saturdays.”

The most popular items on the menu are the hash & eggs and the blueberry pancakes. 

Jessica is a boisterous personality, one of those people where their personality fills the room. When I first tried Chet’s Diner, I asked what a “one time” visitor simply had to have. “The hashish…,” was Jess’ conspiratorial stage whispered reply.  “I’ll cook it a little longer just for you, so you’ll have crisp hashish.”   

I was a little scared, but what the heck, right? Well, the corned beef hash was really quite excellent, complimented with eggs of my choice (dropped) and toast.  Jess tends to call things a little differently, and you’ll come to love Pumpersnickel over the more traditional Pumpernickel.

Chet’s Diner really is a diner, from the Worcester Lunch Cart Company, "The longest one built on site,” beams Jessica. Jessica is quick to point out there is a conception all diners had to be on tracks. As with many diners, the original shell has been augmented many times with additions. Yet, there’s no mistaking the diner feel. Knowing a good thing, Jess doesn’t plan to do any major changes beyond a fresh coat of paint, new tables, and a flat screen television (in the full bar.)

Chet’s hours have a decidedly breakfast feel to them:

Hours:

Mon-Fri 5:30 am - 11:00 am
Fri 4:30 pm - 8:00 pm (Battered Fish: FishFry & bar)
Sat 6:00 am - 11:00 am

Bring cash, as no credit cards are accepted.

With fiancé David back safely from Afghanistan, they are looking at opening on Saturday nights, and Sundays for breakfast. They are training additional staff for the extra hours.

Jess’ late dad, hometown baseball star Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, pitched his entire professional career for the Detroit Tigers (1976–1980). The “Chet’s Family” continues his memory with events like the recently held first annual “Make Your Mark” softball tournament benefiting The Mark Fidrych Children's Fund and The Genesis Fund. You’ll see a number of mementos around the restaurant from the whole family.

At this point, I’ve been back to Chet’s Diner many times, and always find the place welcoming. There’s a healthy banter between the staff and customers, always bringing a smile to everyone’s face.

The hash is very good, and Saturdays bring special menu items (like a Caprese Omelet). I especially like the breakfast potatoes, prepared freshly on the grill in small batches. You will have to watch your coffee intake, the staff at Chet’s chafes if a cup goes empty. 

What more could you ask for from a breakfast place?

Chet’s Diner gets a:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money

 

The Author

Gary Kelley has lived in Westborough since 1994. His reviews are what he would tell friends, and are not an academic analysis.  You can follow him @glkelley or www.garylkelley.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John Laurence September 04, 2011 at 11:06 AM
Terrific review, Gary! Chet's diner is a true landmark in Northboro and I have dined there literally hundreds of times as I grew up in that town. It was a trucker's favorite stop in the old days when Rt 20 was the main road for them...and everyone knows that truck stops usually have great food! The fact that it 'was' open 24/7 meant that I could enjoy home cooked meals anytime, any shift, that I was working. I have known the family all my life, as my family had a business in that town as well. Many of our employees loved Chet's diner and that warm family treatment you described so well in your review! Definitely worth the trip over there!
Gary Kelley September 04, 2011 at 04:49 PM
Thank you, John. I like how you've given even more background. Thanks!!!
Russ Grogan March 26, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Your desciption of Chet's is right on,too bad you missed out on being able to interview Jessica's dad,he was quite the show to watch on Saturday mornings at the Diner,he prepped the Hash did the pots,pans and dishes,sometimes took orders and always had time to sit down and chat with a fan,then Jessica's mom (Ann)would start yelling for more Hash and Mark would jump to attention and say he would chat with you later"gotta get the hash"..Always a great meal and I wish they would do lunch's..someday soon I hope.
Gary Kelley March 26, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Thanks for your note, Russ. Chet's definitely has a homey/family feel to it I find very welcoming. For me, it's like having breakfast at a friend's kitchen table. Very welcoming, and with a show, too!
Tim Dodd March 26, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Gary- Thanks for the post. I have been wanting to try this place for years- I have driven over a few times on Saturdays, only to remember (Once I get there!) that the close at 11AM!
Gary Kelley March 26, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Yep...11 it is....it is a breakfast only kind of place. I tend to head over first thing....and ease into the day.

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