The Little Gem Diner.

Earl and I continued our month long Christmas shopping extravaganza tonight in Syracuse. We added something new to the fun this year, supper at The Little Gem Diner.

The Little Gem Diner is a landmark of sorts in Syracuse, having withstood the test of time and hanging around several decades. It’s well known to the locals and visitors alike. Situated just off busy Interstate 690 on Spencer St., The Little Gem Diner is one of those places that looks like time sort of skipped over. It’s a trailer type diner, with a long counter up one side and booths up the other. The waitresses are the friendly sorts, calling you “hun” and “honey”. There’s no formalities here, just some really, really good homemade food that harkens back to “the good old days”. Earl and I are always on the lookout for a great diner, and it was wonderful to be able to experience The Little Gem Diner. But there’s another reason we went there.

My grandmother worked at The Little Gem Diner for 24 years. If memory serves correctly, she worked there until 1972 or 1973.

I had very vague memories of the diner before going there this evening. I knew where it was, I knew it was the old trailer type, and I barely remember my grandmother either working there or taking us there to “visit the girls”.

A flood of memories came back to me as we sat down tonight. The two dessert cases, one behind each end of the counter. The mirrored door that led to the “rest rooms and phone” area. The ‘foot ledge’, as I liked to call it, that was the same color and pattern as the floor, under the stools that lined the counter.

I could almost sense my grandmother’s presence tonight while we eating supper. “How’s everything, John?”

It was the best diner food we’ve had in a long time. Hell, it was the best food we’ve had out in a long time. Cheeseburgers with mushrooms and bacon with a side of fries, wet with gravy. Nothing frozen. Nothing “corporate” tasting. Good, hearty diner food. The staff was friendly and the customers were content. We’ll be back again soon.

Merry Christmas, Gram. I miss you.