The Agawam Diner’s Angela Mitchell
The Agawam Diner was originally opened in Ipswich by the Galanis family in 1940 and rebuilt in 1954 by the Fodero Dining Car Co. In 1967, it moved first to Peabody and then, in 1967 to its current location at 166 Turnpike Road in Rowley, where it remains a family business and a legendary landmark.
Also born in Ipswich, Boxford resident Angela “Angie” Mitchell has been working at the Agawam for almost 20 years.
North Shore: what do you like best about the north Shore?
Angela Mitchell: I like the ocean. I LOVE the restaurants around here- I think they are great! I love the beaches, and the Castle hill area. And it’s just far enough away from Boston.
NS: How has the community changed over the years?
AM: It has been built up over the last 20 years. Years ago, there wasn’t much competition, but now there definitely is more competition.
NS: Has the Diner been restored over the years?
AM: No, we just take really good care of it.
NS: Has the menu changed over the years?
AM: No. We have just added some things, but we haven’t taken anything away.
NS: Why do people come to the Agawam Diner?
AM: It’s like family in here. Everyone knows everyone’s name and what everyone eats. Some people come three times a day and some customers have been coming here for 30 years! It is funny because, if someone doesn’t come in who we are used to seeing every day, sometimes we will call their house to see if they are okay.
NS: Would someone who has never been here before feel at home?
AM: Definitely, because as soon as they come in about three to four times, you start asking them their names and then you know what they eat. People tend to eat the same things. We are creatures of habit.
NS: Why do you think America has a love affair with diners?
AM: I don’t know. We do get people that just go to diners. I have one customer who is a Lawrence fireman and he will come in from all the way from Methuen just because it’s a diner. But he travels to Lynn too. Every weekend he goes somewhere different. I don’t know what it is. I guess because it is old looking.
NS: What makes this diner work?
AM: Everyone works hard. We all like to get up early. I think good communication
helps. The customers make it work too. They make it easier on us.
NS: Some Diners often use slang to speed things up. Does the Agawam have its own language?
AM: I guess so. Like “brown 25” means gravy. “Side” means French fries. “Dark” means wheat bread. “Dropped” means poached eggs. And there are some words we try not to say because it’s confusing- Like we don’t say “please” because it sounds like “cheese.”
NS: What is your most memorable moment at the Diner?
AM: I would say a few years ago in the summer when Elvis Costello came in to
film a music video here. They were here for over three hours filming. The video came out on television and it showed the Diner. That was like the talk of the town!
NS: What’s your favorite food at the Agawam?
AM: I would say the chicken pie. We make it here in the bakery downstairs. The crust is excellent! I love the clams too.
NS: What’s the most popular food at the diner?
AM: I would say breakfast because we are the only place in town that serves breakfast all day. Our cook Mark is a very good breakfast cook here who works like six days a week. We call him “Crazy Mark” because sometimes he is so good and sometimes he’s so bad. But he does always push out a very good breakfastÂ…when he’s not screaming at you.
NS: I hear the Agawam is famous for their cream pies. What makes them so special?
AM: Do you want a piece? The crust is excellent! Jimmy has been doing it for so many years. He bakes them downstairs. We bake cookies, cupcakes, banana cream pie, coconut pie, chocolate cream pie, lemon meringue, blueberry, appleÂ…. My favorite is the banana cream pie.
NS: What would you tell someone about the Agawam if they have never been here before?
AM: I would tell them we have good homemade food and good people.
NS: How long do you think you will continue to work at the Agawam?
AM: I have an aunt that works here and she is 84 years old. If we stay in business until I am 70, I will still be working here.