My parents moved from the big city of Cleveland to what was then the sleepy farm town of Avon Lake before the I-90 freeway stretched that far west. Mom took a break from being a secretary while my sister and I were preschoolers. Dad drove Lake Road daily to get to his tool and die factory job in The Land. There and back, he’d see the alluring roadside family diner in Rocky River – Bearden’s, advertising their famous steakburger – always fresh, never frozen! – since 1948.
We were the signature blue-collar household from back in the day. Eating out was a true treat. And we only did it once per week, on Friday, for supper. There was always an air of excitement when we’d pile into the car without our seatbelts, roll down the windows, and feel the crisp breeze coming off Lake Erie, waves glimmering in the golden hour. Mom and Dad would laugh—argue—laugh in a weekly ritual that washed away their stress and paved the way for a weekend to get lost in. It usually started with the lit-up sign appearing through the windshield, luring my sister and me to cross the territorial imaginary line in the middle of the backseat to take in the ceremonial view, smile, and then retreat to our corners, saying, “Eww, don’t touch me!”
Inside, we always grabbed a booth, plopped down, and waited for the waitress (always the same lady) while the model train wowed my sister and me with its loops around the dining room from overhead. We never needed a menu. We ordered the same thing time after time. Dad got the steakburger with everything, fries, and Coca-Cola. Oh, and a side salad. The rest of us got the Kiddie Special – yes, even Mom. She said the proportions were more to her liking. Afterward, Dad ordered shakes all around.
For this hour per week, life was never better.
Try it. Bearden’s is still there—now a cool, cheerful, remodeled retro 1950s roadside diner that’s been kid-friendly since 1948!
By Frank Rocco Satullo, The OhioTraveler, Your Tour Guide to Fun