I love nostalgic places. I’m one of those people who spend more time visiting historic sites than amusement parks on vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I love amusement parks, but history repeats itself. It’s almost been proven. So when I happened upon the 5 and Diner when visiting the Galleria in Franklin, Tennessee. I got curious.
From the outside it is literally a blast from the past. The captivating structure almost beckoned to me. From the neon sign to the stainless steel front, the red and white umbrellas to the long and thin building, everything screamed 50’s diner. I wasn’t able to visit at first view, but when time permitted I was sure to go and check it out.
The inside was just as perfectly replicated as the outside. The booths lined the walls, with table side jukeboxes. The counter and soda fountain with stools. Everything is red. white and black, and just right. A+ for the recreation of a great diner.
Here is where things go funny for me. We sit and begin looking at the menu. Now I wasn’t alive in the 50’s, in fact my parents were just young kids, but I have a good idea of what would and wouldn’t be popular. They have obviously done, as most restaurants do, and followed the food trends. Al would never have served this type of thing to Richie and the Fonz. Fish Tacos? Teriyaki Pineapple Chicken Sandwiches? They certainly would never have considered putting Chipotle Mayo on their burgers. Not exactly historically accurate here. Names like the Big Bopper Burger, Surf City. and the La Bamba Melt also fill the pages in a cheesy tribute to some of the popular bands and songs of the era. I’d give the menu about a C
The not so cheesy tribute comes in the form of table side jukeboxes. These wonderful little treats had everything from Elvis to Johnny Cash and every girl group in between. My father accompanied me on this particular trip, and we flipped through the list picking out favorite songs. My mom was an oldies nut so I knew alot of the titles, but never who recorded them originally. My dad of course had a few great stories, even though he was a kid, these songs are almost timeless. At 2 plays for a quarter, one couldn’t resist dropping a coin in and enjoying some great songs with our lunch. The overhead music faded away and our selections then played throughout the restaurant, not just at our table. So an A for atmosphere.
Our food arrives. I chose a Grilled BBQ chicken sandwich, with the sauce on the side. It came out just as requested. The sandwich itself wasn’t very impressive. I could’ve gotten the same sandwich at half a dozen places within a 1 mile radius of the place (including a few fast food establishments) The prices also weren’t to great. $20 for 2 people at lunch (my father ate from the senior menu, and I had a sandwich) I’ve definitely had much more filling meals from better prices at other casual dining places. Another C for the diner.
Our server was great, she wasn’t one of those over attentive types, but kept our drinks filled. I’ve been a server for nearly 5 years, so this is where I can be the most critical. We were greeted quickly at the door, our drinks came fast, and our server was patient as we took a while to decide. She was very friendly and interacted with my 5 month old (although I have learned that every baby is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen when you are working for tips, it’s still nice to hear as a parent). We went at one of the slower parts of the day, around 1:30, but even though there were only two servers working, everything was great. When ready to leave, someone was at the register quickly to process our payment and bid us a good day. A+ for the staff.
While i was disappointed with the food, the overall experience was around a B+ for me. I can’t be too harsh, as I am a pretty picky eater and often find myself settling for the “old favorite” or “can’t ruin this” food item on the menu. Next time I’ll have to try one of their award winning burgers or shakes. It is a bit of a drive for me, but even if i just go back for the atmosphere and some dessert I’m sure i’ll have the same great service experience.