BANG BANG: Breakfast at Akron Family Restaurant & Fred’s Diner
words and photos by Tyron Hoisten
My love of breakfast is what made me a morning person. No lie, at 5:45am, before the rooster even crows (they’re more reliable than alarm clocks), my eyes bolt open and I leap out of bed eager to fork down something scrambled, sizzling, sweet or fluffy. Though I eat it every day, my excitement never wanes. I never get tired of the sunrise meal…except for this week. This week I did a breakfast BANG BANG, and I nearly tapped out.
In case you’re wondering what the heck a BANG BANG is, allow me to elaborate. First, I must assure you that it’s not illegal or immoral. A BANG BANG is when you eat at a restaurant, and then, in a truly doggish fashion, go eat at another restaurant immediately afterward. BANG BANG! I seriously urge you to consult with a doctor before attempting a BANG BANG, because not everyone is built for such hardcore dining.
Anyway, I didn’t plan to do a BANG BANG—it just happened.
It started one morning with me driving around downtown looking for a place to have breakfast. I had a few early appointments downtown, so I thought I’d find a place in the area to grab a bite, but no luck. I mean there were a few chain restaurants, but I wasn’t in the mood for the processed taste; I wanted something fresh and homey. After doing a couple of loops, I remembered hearing good things about Akron Family Restaurant, which is just on the edge of downtown. Because other options were basically nonexistent, I went there.
The staff greeted me with smiles when I first stepped in. They seated me promptly, and after only a few moments, the waitress came for my order. I quickly skimmed the menu, which offered an assortment of breakfast items, from chicken and waffles to cereal, and though the spinach and feta omelet was tempting, I decided to play it safe and go with blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs with cheddar and hashbrowns.
I looked around while I waited. It was neat and tidy. I appreciated that. The waiters moved quickly and were very attentive. I appreciated that too. Something about the place put me at ease—maybe it was its charming and quaint feel, or maybe it was the fact that a couple of Akron’s finest were sitting at a table behind mine sipping coffee. I was told that police officers are regulars there, which, I suppose, makes it one of the safest places to dine in Akron.
In no time flat the waitress had my food on the table. It didn’t look half bad, either.
The two humongous pancakes looked delicious, and they tasted delicious as well. It’s easy to make pancakes. Anyone can do that. But it takes skill and just the right mixture to make a perfect pancake. The Akron Family Restaurant has perfected the art of making light, sweet pancakes.
The hashbrowns were beautifully browned and crispy, just the way that I like them. Oh yes, I like my hashbrowns to talk when I bite into them. The scrambled eggs on the other hand were a letdown. I know there’s not a whole lot to be expected from scrambled eggs, but a little fluff would’ve been nice.
Akron Family Restaurant is the kind of place that I’d come to not just to eat, but to kick back and read the newspaper as well, like many of the patrons around me were doing. The food is good. I mean, it won’t make you turn any flips, but it’s what’s to be expected from an old-fashioned establishment.
I paid the bill and went to my car. I looked at the clock and saw that I still had an hour before my appointment, so I just sat there plotting my next move…and then it happened—I got a text from a friend which simply said, “Breakfast? Now? @Fred’s Diner?
I wanted to decline the offer because I had just eaten and I didn’t have much time, but then I considered how nice it’d be to catch up with an old friend and to finally eat at Fred’s Diner, which I’d heard so much about from a relative who practically lives there. I smiled that Grinchly grin and thought to myself “breakfast BANG BANG” as I texted my friend, “Be there in 10.”
The diner itself is small, like the size of a shoebox, but the parking lot is huge. There were, I kid you not, about 45 cars in the parking lot. I wondered how all these people were able to fit inside this place.
When I walked in, it was tight. People were wall to wall, elbow to elbow. Waitresses carrying trays whizzed by. People were picking up takeout. I looked behind the counter and saw what looked like 20 people working in the kitchen. There was a lot going on inside that little joint.
I was shown to a table in the back. The waitress, a sassy lady with even sassier hair and colorful socks, asked me what I’d like to drink. I said, “nothing, thank you,” and started flipping through the coffee-stained menu. To my surprise, the waitress came back moments later with a glass of water. “I brought you something anyway, hun” she said, “because that’s just the way we do it here. Fred wants to make sure everyone’s taken care of”.
My friend arrived, finally, and we pondered the menu’s light breakfast selection. We both settled on the same: sausage and gravy biscuits.
The waitress took our order, went to the kitchen, and came out seconds later with our food. It was literally that quick.
The food was smoking hot. The portions were more than generous. There was so much sausage gravy that I actually had to roll up my sleeves and sift through it to find the two biscuits.
The first bite brought tears to my eyes. It certainly won’t win a beauty contest, but the taste was glorious. The gravy was thick and seasoned to perfection, and there was no shortage of sausage. The biscuits were big, buttery and flaky. Enough said. What more could you want in a biscuit?
Though Fred’s Diner is an interesting and textured looking place, the food and the service are top notch. It’s certainly not a four (or even a two) star dining experience, but I’ll be returning soon for something savory.
As I raced back downtown to make my appointment, feeling nearly defeated from the breakfast BANG BANG, I wondered why there weren’t more breakfast places or cafes in the area. Downtown should be a culmination of a city’s offerings. Our downtown already has plenty of entertainment, art, dining and nightlife to offer—but what about a good breakfast spot? Why should a guy have to drive from one side of town to the other to do a breakfast BANG BANG?
In 2018, it’d be nice to see one of downtown’s vacant spaces transformed into a cozy breakfast nook or a café, perfect for early meetings over biscuits and gravy or reading newspapers over pancakes.
Akron Family Restaurant
250 W Market St
930 Home Ave
Tyron Hoisten is a writer, an actor, a minister—in short, he is many things, but most notably, he’s bald.