CRAZY ABOUT DINERS: Maid-Rite Diner, Wilson, NC

I LOVE diners.  I would rather stop at a diner than a 5 star restaurant.

Growing up in New Jersey I thought diners were everywhere.   Even the TV show Happy Days featured a diner.

After living in other states I discovered diners did not always migrate away from the east coast.  There are wonderful regional foods available in most small towns but there is something about a diner.

It is a microcosm of the local life.

Tables and chairs remind me of the Formica kitchen sets from the 50’s and earlier.

I am an invisible traveler, most of the time, I am just never noticed by others.  I even have my ‘travel face’ that tells others not to bother with me.   So I can often eat in a diner without much attention and view the group interacting:   the workers having a quick coffee, the tradesmen and women having  lunch, travelers off the interstate who eat with their heads down. 


When one of the diners’ locals enters, everyone greets them by name.   Their food preferences are know as well as the history of their entire family.     I have learned about divorces, layoff, small and big successes of the residents while waiting for my waffle or sandwich.  Rarely do patrons talk about illness…….

Some diners look like converted air streams or parts of manufactured home.  Some are elegant like the one on Rt 37 near Seaside Heights, NJ with marble floors and a mirrored ceiling.    Some are famous and when they close are sorely missed.    Everyone has their favorites.

When I saw there was a diner within walking distance of the hotel in Wilson, NC I was staying in, I had to take a look.

Located in a small shopping center, the profile did not match my New Jersey experience, but that did not stop me.

The interior was bright and colorful.  Even the ceiling was a take on the tin ceiling tiles from the last century.

The staff was very friendly and while my order was being prepared they allowed me to ask questions about the diner’s origin.   The answers surprised me.

The original Maid-Rite diner dates back to 1920’s.    Today, Maid-Rite diners are franchised in many states.

From the company web site:
“Serving Our Customers for Over 87 Years.

In 1926, way back before Facebook, and even before TV, people just didn’t know how to waste time. But, being really bored paid off for butcher Fred Angell. He worked to get just the right combination of a special cut and grind of meat and a selected blend of spices. When a deliveryman tasted Fred’s new creation, he said, “This sandwich is made right.” With that, the Maid-Rite was born.       Fred was quite a sandwich maker but not much of a speller.   Our select line of seasoned loose meat sandwiches are made from 100% USDA Midwestern fresh ground beef served on a fresh steamed white or wheat bun, with your choice of ketchup, mustard, onion and pickles.      


Our franchisee tradition that started back in 1926 has been to have individual owner/operators who are well known and well liked within their communities, who take pride in owning and operating a successful Maid-Rite franchise restaurant. This business philosophy has and always will be the backbone of our franchisee network. Many of our original franchises granted in the 1920s are still in operation today. We are proud to say that we now have third generation family members operating family owned Maid-Rites. Our family of Maid-Rite Franchisees takes pride in serving our customers.


Two of the amazing staff

   Often when traveling solo and arriving at the end (last few hours) of the day, the staff is tired from a hard day.   No so at Maid-Rite.  I was warmly greeted and indulged when I started  my endless questions.
 What I did WRONG was not read the ENTIRE menu,  something I do in all diners.

   I missed their signature sandwich and opted for grilled chicken.   But I must say it was excellent:  hot, cooked through and very moist.

   They included a side salad and YES I WAS compelled to order PIE.
One day I plan to do a trip and stop JUST TO EAT PIE in every town I visit.

Even if you diet, have filled yourself with a signature sandwich you MUST order pie!  
I had the pecan:  warm, gooey, good crust, not too sweet.   I brought a piece of apple pie for the hotel desk staff member, because she had recommended the diner.   She agreed the pie was good.

The moral of this story:   Get off the highway and explore.   If you stop driving you have an opportunity to experience the place where you get out of your car…..

I received a sad email that this location is now closed.  if you see another aid Rite Diner let me know

Published by Lee Laurino

A traveler not a tourist, searching for experiences not in travel books. Solo traveler who travels as long and far as possible sharing photos of the people and places I discover

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