Erlo Bronson Hwy (SR 192)
Holopaw, FL USA
Where is it?
Enter the restaurant. Once you do, you'll see the cashier counter to your immediate left, against the eastern wall of the building. To your right is the entire dining room.
From the main entrance, with your back to it, look across the way, to the back wall of the restaurant. There, you'll see a door facing you. On the door is a sign -- a piece of paper with some red handwriting, really, reading, "Hunter Special: ICE a 'Buck' a Bag." Above that sign is a sign for the men's room (not the ladies' room), and another sign reading, "Please keep this door closed."
Well, go through that door. Once you do, you enter a very dark hallway that contains a slew of storage items (supply closet, soft drink canisters, milk crates, etc.) as well as the bathrooms.
Turn right after you pass through the door (be sure to close the door behind you -- you don't want any trouble) and walk towards the other end of the hallway. The second door you come to will be the ladies' room, and the final door in the hallway (on the left) is the men's.
What's it like?
This roadside stop in this very small, middle-of-nowhere town looks and feels like one of those middle-of-nowhere diners you always see on TV shows in middle-of-nowhere places. And to be honest, that's essentially what the place is. The signs posted in it it hint that the clientele consists mostly of the few farmers that live in the area and hunters, who live to venture into the surrounding swamp for their kill.
It's also on SR 192, which is a semi-busy highway that leads visitors in St. Cloud or Kissimmee (and in that respects Disney) towards Florida's Atlantic beaches (192 dead-ends in Melbourne, which is about 20 minutes south of Cocoa Beach).
So given that, I imagine the place gets a decent amount of drive-by traffic (as was my case), but outside of that it's a locals establishment through and through. While inside, I was the only person who didn't seem to know the hostess by first name though that wasn't an issue at all. We were welcomed openly here.
The food here is your basic truck stop variety menu. Burgers, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, pot roast -- not quite diner end (though similar in some ways), but not quite a truck stop either, if you catch my drift.
The place also sells traditional Florida Cracker dishes, like fried turtle and gator, which I imagine is more for the tourists passing through than anything else. I don't know many Florida natives that actually eat these things willingly any more -- at festivals and as novelties, sure, but not since the advent of Publix, if you will). Also, the Cracker dishes were about double the price of everything else on the menu, which also leads me to the tourist idea.
Anyway, I had a hamburger, which was decent enough but forgettable. My companion had chicken fried steak, which didn't thrill her too much. Service was friendly and the place is friendly enough -- as hinted earlier, it's not one of those tough local spots where they look at you funny if you happen not to be one of the regulars. Still, outside of being a passing curiosity, I didn't see much here worth re-visiting.
And the state of the bathrooms kind of sealed the deal on that last sentiment as well. This is not a pleasant place to make a pit stop.
After heading down that long, dark hallway to the restroom itself (which really is the scariest trek I've made to a bathroom since visiting Kappy's or -- for entirely different reasons -- Famas Pizza) you find yourself in a decent-sized one-bagger room.
The walls here are painted concrete and pretty grimy. The floor is covered in that old-style of wood paneling that used to cover floors in the 70s, only it's split and coming apart in places, and the base boards seem to be peeling away from the walls. (Is the bathroom actually shrinking as I'm in it, I wondered? Again, some reminders of Kappy's.)
The door is your basic light white-painted wood variety, with a rusted latch across it, serving as its only lock (and you get the impression, while staring at it, that it's been a lock that's been busted open a few times). The light switch, beside the lock, is equally decrepit.
The toilet, sink and urinal are all your basic white porcelain models, though they are pretty worn down and stained in spots. The chrome plumbing coming out of them are all rusted over in spots and look like they need replacement soon.
The sink sits on one of those cabinet/sink uni-pieces that you can pick up cheap at the hardware store -- except this one looked like it was handed down over the generations. Or, at the very least, it was handed down to the place from Country Ham 'n' Eggs.
Also, some basic white tiles have been stuck to the wall behind the sink -- perhaps to aid with splashing or some sort. Not exactly decorative but a bit similar to what was accomplished at the Town House Restaurant, only that place pulled it off much, much better.
A trashcan filled with paper towels sat at the base of the sink cabinet. A slip of toilet seat covers hung above the toilet, along with a sign reading "Please put paper towels in the trash can" -- which of course made me question the nature of the sign some. Were people throwing paper towels in the toilet or were they throwing toilet seat covers in the trash?
Of course, the slip of toilet seat covers was empty, so I wondered if perhaps the latter were true. You never know, some times.
Also, the roll of toilet paper hanging on the wall was down to the nub -- and I imagined there was more paper under the sink I didn't feel comfortable looking inside to see.
Through all of this, the ceiling fan hanging above me twirled at high velocity, which made the place feel pretty breezy. Not as breezy as, say, Southwest Indian Traders, but not too far off.
In fact, the piece-meal construction here kind of had me thinking a lot of Southwest Indian Traders, only I think the owners and employees here actually use these toilets, where I have a good feeling the ones at Southwest Indian Traders are for clients and passers-by only.
If you're in the area and need to go and can't afford to turn back to Harmony (about 10 minutes westward on 192) or head on to Melbourne (about 20 minutes eastward), then skip this place's bathroom and go across the street to the town's gas station. It's not much of an improvement but it is a little better.
Marks out of 10:
Comments to the Management:
Needs some serious renovation. I appreciate the homespun feel of the restaurant and the good nature of the staff, but this bathroom seems to take that a little too much too heart. A line must be drawn somewhere.
Monday, 9 February 2009
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I absolutley love this. As a former New Yorker, I used to keep a mental inventory of acceptable public restrooms in different parts of the city. It's nice to know I'm not the only one that considers this an important issue.
i stoped in here one time and i found a cock roch running on my table so after i seen that i could not eat there. the waitress was also vary rude to me as well
so please for your health do not eat here.
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