Just 1 Bite Diner
As I walked into Just 1 Bite Diner at 350 N. Salina St., in Syracuse, my first impression was that of the quintessential diner experience. The counter to one side, lined with the kind of stools that you would hope to see in every diner type setting and the walls are bordered with booths that are both roomy and comfortable. Aromas of fresh coffee and typical diner fare fill the air and the sound of the grill, which you can see through an opening across from the counter (I love that), fills out the atmosphere. The difference between this place and most diners I’ve been to is the Cheers like atmosphere, where everybody knows your name. I didn’t see one person walk in the door who didn’t get a warm greeting (some familiar to the staff, others just walking in for the first time, like myself) or even better, the regular customers would receive a good natured ribbing from the staff and owner who frequently checks on his patrons to be sure everything is satisfactory. The clientele ranges from the average, blue collar, working man to professionals, young and old as well as families from all walks of life.
My waitress promptly brought me a great cup of coffee (which is the cornerstone of any good diner) as I looked through a very extensive menu. The items included everything from French toast, Ultimate Stuffed French Toast, Frittatas, breakfast burritos, a large variety of omelets, burgers, sandwiches, quesadillas, salads and so much more, including their everyday $2.95 special of two eggs and toast, which anyone and everyone can afford, as well as an entire page of diner “Staple Specials.” The prices rarely crest the ten dollar mark, so this is a place you can get a great meal with large portions that are priced for anyone’s budget. Some of the most popular items on the menu are the Frittatas, wide variety of burgers and their Mile High Meatloaf.
The two menu items I got to try were The Ultimate Stuffed French Toast and the pizza omelet, with home fries and gravy. The French toast comes with two thick Texas style slices on the top and bottom of a giant pile of eggs, cheese and your choice of breakfast meat with syrup on the side. It was cooked to perfection and melt in your mouth fantastic! The pizza omelet was as good as any pizza I’ve had in the past year and almost as big. It was stuffed with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage and pizza sauce. The home fries were delicious and the gravy… Sweet lord, the gravy! Actual homemade gravy, like you would get at grandma’s house. I found out later that everything on the menu is made from scratch. There are no pans or pots full of popular items sitting under a heat lamp, waiting for someone to order them. When you place your order, that’s when your food is made and I cannot say enough about the freshness, the flavor and the quality of the food here. The food isn’t only fresh, but Just 1 Bite uses as many local suppliers and ingredients as possible, including Smith’s Eggs, Paul Delima Coffee, and many others, too numerous to mention. That is what CNY dining should always be about: great food grown, raised and produced locally. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, they have a customer appreciation day where you can come in and eat for free. When I talked with kitchen manager, Joe, a big, funny guy who appears to love his job, he informed that he is an old school cook who believes that if he is having a good time, then it comes across in the food as well as the service and he is trying to pass on that philosophy to everyone around him. He and the owner, Adam play off each other and work the kitchen and dining area like a comedy ballet and as Joe says, they “go together like Black Beans and Rice.”
Owners Adam, a former tattoo artist (and one of the nicest, most genuine and funny people I’ve ever met) and his wife Jessica started this business from the ground up with almost nothing right around four years ago. This is where the story gets really interesting. After sitting down with Adam, he informed that he had some legal troubles and a somewhat checkered past. He told me how he had made a lot of mistakes, but this diner is his way of showing his wife and everyone else that he has changed and is doing his best to improve the community, as well as himself on a daily basis. Most of his kitchen staff consists of people who need a second chance in life. Adam, Jessica and Joe are happy to provide that opportunity. Adam and Joe play off each other, making this a fun and inviting atmosphere that keeps customers coming back again and again, all while trying to make a difference in their little slice of the neighborhood. Just 1 Bite has earned a reputation for never turning someone away who needs a hot meal. Their charitable contributions stretch all over the city, from feeding the homeless to hosting a fundraiser every year for a different charity, like this year’s event on Feb. 10, benefitting the Challenger Baseball League for special needs children. All of this should not overshadow the fact that Just 1 Bite is a great place, run by fun people, with great food at a great price. This is definitely a place you should check out and help it continue to grow and improve the community as a whole. Who knows, you might become a regular and get that good natured ribbing from one or all of the staff that seems to accompany most repeat customers.
[symple_box color=”blue” text_align=”center” width=”” float=”none”]Just 1 Bite Diner
Where: 350 North Salina St. Syracuse
When: Daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Why: …because all you need to discover great food, great prices, good people and good times is Just 1 Bite. [/symple_box]
Ted Snyder / The Fuze Magazine
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