By Terry Pentelli
There are many obvious differences between small towns and cities, small towns have more grass than tall buildings and parking lots. You will also find mostly family owned and operated businesses in small towns, rather than the corporate machine that pumps customers through much like an assembly line. Most importantly, people who always take the time to stop and chat just because that is their way will always be the way of small town people.
One of the biggest differences is the home cooking that you get from small town restaurants, the All Aboard Diner in Lake City is one of the best examples of this hometown goodness that anyone could possibly use.
The All Aboard Diner is not only known for its fantastic food, phenomenal service and outstanding atmosphere, but it is also one of the most historic establishments in Erie County.
This little family restaurant was once a train depot that was the first one built for the Lake Shore railroad. Lake City was known as Miles Grove at the time, and the train ended at this stop until a wooden viaduct was built over Elk Creek in 1852. The building was called Girard Station, and served the railroad for over 100 years until it was closed.
To this day, the building still stands proudly next to the tracks as it was restored by the Meeder family and then purchased in 1998 by Rebecca Anenger and converted into a family restaurant, which is now operated by her grandchildren.
The staff is friendly, next-door neighbor friendly and the atmosphere is charming with some of the best down-home good eats you will find anywhere. There are a variety of photos and drawings of local buildings from around town, as well as train memorabilia and other historical pieces pertaining to the town.
One of the great pieces of nostalgia that the All Aboard Diner can brag about is the historic stop Abraham Lincoln made there to give a campaign speech on February 16, 1861. A picture of President Lincoln adorns the walls of the restaurant as well.
A working model train runs on a track above and circles the entire place as diners enjoy their meals.
As a favorite of the Lake City Community, all of the food on the menu at the All Aboard Diner is homemade, served hot, and made to order and always served with a big smile and great conversation by people who treat you like their friend.
You can expect daily specials like homemade Meatloaf, burgers and fresh baked pies to be posted on wipe-off boards. The cozy little eatery serves a delicious selection of breakfast, lunch and dinner for its patrons and is usually open until around 8:00pm. On Fridays they generally stay open till around 10pm and as their daily special serve, they some of the best fried North Atlantic White Fish that you have ever tasted as an all you can eat fish fry.
My personal favorites are the hearty and scrumptious breakfasts, especially the Ham & Cheese Omelets served with your choice of two great sides. I don’t live in Lakes City, I’m from Erie, but the All Aboard Diner is well worth the drive.
Just as a side note, the staff is not only the friendly ones, on my last visit a man I had never met before offered, then gave me his book just because I looked like I might enjoy reading it. To me, that is not an everyday experience unless you stop in at the All Aboard Diner, which is just how the people are in Lake City.
Fantastic food, great service, amazing atmosphere and truly hometown friendly attitudes is what you get at the All Aboard Diner, take a drive, stop in and experience the goodness.
The All Aboard Diner is located on RT 18 at 2203 Rice Avenue Lake City Pa.