UPDATE: Nancy’s has CLOSED.
As much fun as it is to explore new places, sometimes it’s great to re-visit old haunts, if anything to reassure ourselves that some things never change.
We were overdue for a visit to Nancy’s, a Clintonville institution that’s seen some ups and downs over recent years. In June 2009 the diner closed (it’s been open since 1968) because of owner Cindy King’s declining health. But the community rallied around it and helped it re-open in February 2010. Cindy’s niece Sheila took over. Cindy passed in 2012, and sadly Sheila passed several months after that, but her husband Rick and his team keep the diner alive and kicking. So I was happy to return on assignment for the Dispatch last month.
Really, not much has changed since we last visited the diner. I wrote about it in 2010, but we’ve visited many times more since then.
Nancy’s has that sort of wry sense of humor that’s only earned by 50+ years in business.
Their tagline is “Eat It and Beat It.” You’ll see it on signs on the wall, on T-shirts, on their website. The diner is small, so when they’re really busy, they don’t want you lingering at your table.
You’ll see other fun and snarky signs throughout. “The kind of food you dream about in jail,” the menu says. The bottle of house-made hot sauce is simply labeled “Better than Frank’s.”
We ordered a good sampling from the breakfast menu.
Omelets are pretty sizable, eggs cooked in thin layers and folded over the toppings.
Well done on the waffle – nice and crispy, with your choice of toppings.
You can’t tell it from the outside, but this is Nancy’s signature garbage omelet. I think this is my new go-to for breakfast there. Great mix of toppings, all cooked well. Very filling, but not super greasy.
Biscuits and gravy are easy win. I love a good, chunky gravy.
And you can put the gravy on anything.
One of many things I love about Nancy’s is their commitment to the community. For years they’ve served free Thanksgiving dinner to anyone who needs it. The owner Rick Hahn regularly posts videos on their Facebook page about their efforts to care for members of the community. And they have a formal program for paying it forward and buying meals for those who need it.
All of this is a reminder of the importance of neighborhood institutions like this. Like the sign says, “Damn good food and damn good people.”