Fred’s Diner: Eat. Pay. Get Out. ‘We’re kind of joking, but kind of serious.’

by Dustin Bird

Fred Spencer may have been destined to run a diner. As a child, Spencer ran a hot dog stand out of his parent’s backyard. His Uncle Fred, whom he’s named after and was involved in the restaurant business, inspired Spencer to enter the food industry.

It seems only right that he’s been serving the community breakfast for the last 32 years at Fred’s Diner. 

“Back in the day, in my parents’ house when I was about 12, there was a little clubhouse in the backyard,” Spencer says. “For some reason, in one of my dad’s business dealings, he got six cases of tin foil and my mom gave me one of the cases. So, I took them in, stapled gunned tin foil to the walls of this clubhouse and started selling hotdogs out of it. I called it Fred’s Diner.”

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After being inspired by his Uncle Fred’s ability to provide for his family throughout the Great Depression, Spencer felt that running a restaurant was something he would love to do himself. While he was never particularly interested in being a chef, he admits that he often finds himself in the kitchen to help his team out. 

During the last three decades of running Fred’s Diner, there have been the expected hard times, but Spencer has always valued the community and his family to keep him going.

“The best highlight is all four of my kids and all their spouses have worked here at one point,” he says. “That’s really cool. If you’re going to work 70 hours a week, that’s one way of being able to spend time with your family.”

Many Akron residents may be familiar with Fred’s Diner’s famous shirts that read, “Eat. Pay. Get Out.” Though Fred’s has a friendly staff, they also embrace doing business and leaving so the next person can enjoy their breakfast.

“It’s not for everybody,” Spencer says. “It’s a busy place. It’s tiny. People are standing on top of you, but it’s not a place where you sit around and talk to your friend. That’s why the shirts have the saying on the back. ‘Eat. Pay. Get Out.’ We’re kind of joking, but kind of serious.”

Fred’s has dropped to serving breakfast three days a week since the pandemic started, but their large portion sizes are still the same. While all orders are currently still to go, he has plans to reopen the dining room in early June.

“We’re known mostly for our breakfast anytime and big portions,” Spencer says. “Bacon is probably the number one seller since we give close to a half-pound per order. Before the pandemic, we were at 14 tons of bacon in a year.”

I can speak from experience. They serve great portions for great prices.

Fred’s Diner is located at 930 Home Ave in Akron, where they serve breakfast-to-go Friday-Saturday 6 a.m.-3p.m. To place an order, customers can call (330) 535-3733.

Dustin Bird is a recent resident of Akron. He loves spending time with his pet’s and traveling when able. He has always enjoyed meeting the locals during his travels and hearing their stories. Dustin hopes to be a voice for Akron residents and tell the unique stories they hold.

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