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April 24, 2012

 

Families gather at Cuyler Diner

Main Street diner has loyal following in small-town community

DinerJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
The Main Street building that houses the diner has always been a community hub in Cuyler. It was a general store and feed store before becoming a diner.

By MATTHEW NOJIRI
Staff Reporter
mnojiri@cortlandstandardnews.net

CUYLER — A steady stream of customers walk into this small-town diner on a drizzly Saturday morning, looking to eat breakfast with family, chat with neighbors and grab a morning coffee to start the day.
It’s been that way for a dozen years at the Cuyler Diner, says owner Connie Kessler, whose Main Street diner has built a loyal following from members of the community and visitors from as far as Canada who hunt locally or fish at DeRuyter Lake.
Without a prominent website or advertising, Kessler said her business has established itself in this small town with a population just under 1,000.
“I don’t really advertise, so everyone who comes here is from word of mouth,” she said. “That is everything.”
Kessler says she has “doubled business” since taking ownership of the diner in 2000.
“It’s a hub where you can meet and get together,” said Cuyler resident Kirk Glundal, who has been going to the diner since he arrived in the area about eight years ago.
The diner opens at 5 a.m., seven days a week, and closes after lunch time.
Kessler owned a small diner in Genoa in Cayuga County.
She also worked in restaurants during her teenage years.
She said she used to camp in Cuyler and thought owning Cuyler Diner might be a good opportunity for her.
The Main Street building has been a community hub in Cuyler since at least the late 1800s or early 1900s, Kessler said. It has been a general store and feed store before becoming a diner.
The business is a family operation. Kessler’s husband, Fran, is often relegated to dishwashing duty and her granddaughter Toshia runs the diner on her own some weekdays, Kessler said. The tentative plan is for Kessler’s daughter, Missy, to take over the business.
The diner’s menu includes mainly breakfast and lunch options. She said people really enjoy the homemade apple pies and sausage and gravy options in particular.
“Breakfast is the big draw,” Kessler said.
The diner is a popular spot for families to come together, said DeRuyter resident Amanda Hartman, who was hosting her father, Rob Scott, and her family for breakfast on Saturday morning.
Hartman said there are not a lot of choices locally in the small town, but that she relishes trips to the diner with her family.
“This is it,” she said, with a laugh.
Her father said he enjoys coming to the restaurant and thinks it has an important role in the community.
“With urban sprawl … we’re seeing fewer and fewer places like this in America, and we really need them,” Scott said. “It’s important that places like this continue to exist.”

 

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