Diner serves it old-school
Published: Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 18:10
The Townhouse sits in the middle of downtown Oviedo, with its yellow brick structure almost overtaken by the roads it rests on. Cars fly by and Oviedo's feral chickens peck leisurely by its door, but inside is a diner that never left the decade in which it was built.
The Townhouse is that place that no one can remember not being there. It just seems to have always been on the edge of state Routes 434 and 426. No one can recall where it got the name or its back-story, being older than most of its patrons at 68 years old.
"It's just always been that way since it opened," Townhouse assistant manager Kimberly Shulich said.
Inside it looks like a relic of The Andy Griffith Show set. It's a little beat-up with paint missing from the wall and unmatched chairs but it's homey in the way an eclectic great-aunt is. The tables are covered with gingham cloth and the walls decorated in old children's drawings. Chicken figurines sit perched on shelves and countertops acting as the diner's mascot.
"The food was reasonably cheap and good," said Robert Schiavo, sophomore interdisciplinary studies major. "But it was the look of the place that drew me in. I felt like I was back at home."
Though the décor adds to the country kitchen image it's the food and friendliness that solidifies its small-town-favorite status.
The Townhouse still serves big country breakfasts with good ol' southern hospitality the way Paula Deen sells it on her cooking shows. Big plates of pancakes and eggs served with grits, hash browns and biscuits slathered in white gravy are served all day and served quickly.
The waitresses recognize locals remembering who likes their sweet tea topped with lemonade and who likes extra pickles on their burger. They stop to chat with patrons about how many pies to bake for a town event and move glass table toppers out of children's reach.
"We run the restaurant in a way that encourages you to chat with the waitress and that makes you feel comfortable, feel like a part of the family," Shulich said. "We want you to be comfortable with the menu and the staff so you can come and go as you please."
It's the kind of place where lingering in the booth a few extra minutes won't mean buying another drink or a dessert. And though the server can rattle off a list of extra sides or dessert options there doesn't seem to be any pressure to buy them.
"I decided to try [the Townhouse] after I drove by and it seemed popular and local," Corey Hubbard, a junior political science major, said. "I came back because the food is pretty good.
"[The Townhouse] is a good staple of Oviedo."
The Townhouse is open seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Its menu hosts plenty of down-home southern favorites like country-fried steak but also an unexpected twist of Greek staples like baklava and gyros.
Clearly, though, it's the breakfast that is the diner's standout. Voted best breakfast 2005 by the Orlando Sentinel and given five golden eggs by Mr.Breakfast.com, it's the first pages of the menu that make it worth the hype.
"[The food] is really good. They have cheap breakfast all day. And it's not a chain which makes me feel good about going there," Erica Asti, a senior health services major.
The Townhouse remains the kind of place chain restaurants attempt to imitate but cannot. Its loyalty to the tradition of service with a smile and gravy with a biscuit keeps its brand of home-style charm from being reproduced.
The Townhouse is located at 9 E. Broadway St. in Oviedo.