About Me

My photo
Mike hopes to see the world turned upside down through local communities banding together for social change, especially churches which have recognized the radical calling to be good news to the poor, to set free the prisoners and oppressed, and to become the social embodiment of the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven. He lives with the blessed memory of his wife, in Durham, NC, and has three adult children living in three different states. He also shares his life with the Mt. Level Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, the faculty and students of Shaw University Divinity School in Raleigh, NC, and the faithful fans of Duke and Baylor Basketball in his neighborhood.

Popular Posts

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Eat at Joe's

“I know what it’s like not to have.  My highest goal in life is to help people.”--Joe Bushfan

After Shaw University Commencement on Saturday, I finally made my way to a place I have been hearing about even before it opened:  Joe's Diner on Angier Avenue at Driver Street in Durham.  My friend Steve Bumgardner has been telling me about these great hot dogs that Joe Bushfan was selling out of a cart.  Quite a few years ago, Joe Bushfan married one of Durham's finest home-grown citizens, Elaine O'Neal Bushfan, that's Judge Bushfan to you and me.  He settled into Durham and made friends easily.  And he came up with a plan to make his life and work benefit a whole community.  I don't need to tell the whole story, because much of it has already been told here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

I do want to report on my first time to Joe's Diner.  It was mid-afternoon on a Saturday, so the pace was slow after lunch and before dinner.  I studied the menu, introduced myself to Joe, and told him Steve had sent me.  I looked over the diner options:  the feature is his all beef hot dog brand from Massachusetts, Pearl Frankfurters.  A quarter-pound dog is close to the size of a large hot dog you might be familiar with.  A half pound dog is not much longer than usual, but really big.  Then there is the one pound hot dog.  I saw one being cooked:  it looked like a great big red snake.  It is thick and about three times or more longer than your usual grocery store hot dog.  He does have some skinny dogs that look familiar.  I only saw a footlong.

The menu has many different ways to serve the hot dogs, as well as some spicy dogs and sausages.  I went fairly conservative for my first try:  half pounder with yellow mustard, ketchup, cheddar cheese, and chopped onions.  With such a big dog, I had to ask for a few more chopped onions to make it come out even, and they were glad to pile them on.  The flavor of the frankfurter did live up to the reputation.  It was good enough to enjoy it for its own flavor, not merely as an excuse for a big pile of condiments.  I'm going to try something else next time.  The Apollo Dog looks pretty good, if I don't have to buy a whole pound of frankfurter.  For folks from Chicago, New York, or other towns with specialized hot dog styles, you can get what you want.

Besides hot dogs, Joe's has hamburgers, from normal to extra large, fixed up in a variety of interesting ways.  Then there are other sandwiches, including some pastrami that caught my eye (I'd better not tell my friend W. C. Turner, Jr., about the pastrami.  He says it is the only thing that successfully tempts him to give up his dietary discipline.)  And Joe's serves breakfast all day.  I definitely want to go back for that.

One of the specials on the day I went was a pork chop sandwich.  Now if I had not gone in planning to try the hot dog, that is what I would have eaten.  I can't vouch for Joe's pork chops yet, but I will not let a pork chop special pass me by again when I eat at Joe's.  There are some of the usual diner sides like fries, but I passed on all of that to make sure I could get through the big hot dog.  It was not as daunting as I had imagined.

Joe is a hard-working, friendly guy.  The other folks working at Joe's also aim to please, and they kept checking on me to make sure I had what I needed.  Tea and sodas are refillable, so I had my diet soda refilled to wash it all down.  Joe's got a score of 100 on its last health code inspection, and he has the good grade displayed on the front window for all to see.  The place was obviously spotless.  Joe did most of the work to restore the old building and install the fixtures himself.  A few of the more technical jobs were contracted out.  The black granite countertop he installed gave sitting at the counter a touch of class.  It has the look and feel of a place that has been around for a long time.  We all can hope it will be around a whole lot longer.

The place was kind of laid back while I was there.  A few people were eating, and the staff was serving and doing some cleaning up from the lunch rush.  Joe made himself a cheese steak sandwich while I was relaxing with my soda.  We chatted about the work he had done to get this fine establishment operational.  

The whole place livened up for a few minutes when someone brought up boxing.  Joe got animated talking about a recent pre-fight weigh-in.  Everyone had an opinion about who would likely win, where the best place to watch would be, or how these fighter compared to the ones from back in the day.  Customers hung on every word when Joe told about conversations with famous fighters from the past.  I suspect that kind of animated conversation is not unusual when the diner is busy.

I'll be in Durham for about six weeks this summer, teaching summer school and working on getting my house ready to sell.  I'll be checking back in at Joe's Diner to sample the food and fellowship again.  I hope you will do the same.

1 comment:

Michelle O. said...

Eat at Joe's

Okay, I am ready to drive to Durham and Eat at Joe's. I love a good beef hot dog and a pork chop sandwich.

It is great to hear about new small businesses starting up. So often I hear about people wanting to start businesses but they find every excuse why they should not start a business. I wonder if Joe would help others with a business plan on how to start sole proprietorships. I believe that the only way for many people to restore their economic status is to become self-employed. It is my suggestion that people find their passion, a target market and pursue a new career.

Baptist Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf
Christian Peace Bloggers
Powered By Ringsurf