As a kid, I always knew we were halfway to Utah when we got to The Griddle. The afternoon before, setting off on the annual summer trip from central California to Salt Lake City, where my parents were born and raised, Mom would have the car already packed so we could grab Dad from the office and get right on the road. He’d drive until he couldn’t, and we’d sleep in the car outside of a church in some small town. Then I’d wake to the bone-shaking ruts of Interstate 80, somewhere outside of Winnemucca, Nevada. And every year, we’d stop for breakfast.
That’s what I tell my sons as we park. The old brick-red plywood facing is either gone or never existed, but there’s log-cabin siding now. The flyscreened patio has been walled in, with skylights in the roof. The old baby-blue neon sign still stands, as comforting as the menu.
Each son orders to suit his role — smothered burrito for the rebel, candy-bar French toast for the youngest. I never stray from biscuits and gravy, eggs sunny side up, same as grandpa would get here after World War II, when mom was a young girl and they stopped at this same diner.
Grandpa died before I was born, and my sons barely remember my mother. But I always imagine his old Ford pickup parked outside, loaded with the fruit he’d sell along the way to pay for the trip. Mom would ride back there, too, because that’s just how it was, and if the pioneers could do it, so could she. That was her mantra for hard times. She loved California, but her heart was always in Utah; for me, growing up and moving around so much, neither ever felt like home. But here at The Griddle, no matter which way I’m headed, I’m halfway there.
460 W. Winnemucca Blvd.