A Visit to Linda’s Restaurant, Xenia, Ohio
Xenia, Ohio, located 21 miles east of Dayton, may be recognized famously as the victim of extreme storms, none more famous than when the city made national news in 1974 following the Super Outbreak, the second largest series of tornadoes in recorded history. The disaster killed 34 people, injured an additional 1,150, destroyed almost half of the city’s buildings, and left 10,000 people homeless.
On a personal level, Xenia is where my wife and I formalized our family as it currently stands today. In the Spring of 2009, we entered it’s 19th century courthouse to stand before a judge and received formal recognition as the legal parents of our daughter, J. Recently, we made the exact same trip for the exact same reason, only this time it was to finalize the adoption of our second daughter, Baby E.
Xenia’s quaint yet economically impaired downtown doesn’t have much to offer the midweek lunch crowd, let alone a small family unit looking to celebrate a milestone. Nevertheless, we stuck to our point of tradition set in 2008 and paid a visit to Linda’s Restaurant.
Located directly across from the courthouse on East Main Street, Linda’s facade brings to mind The Doors “Morrison Hotel” album cover, seamlessly blending in with neighboring storefronts that hawk second hand goods or convenience store merchandise. The restaurant’s extensive made-to-order menu, uneven tables, torn chairs and weighty utensils could have been put in commission 40 years ago. The smell of cooking oil, starchy food and Folgers coffee greet the senses just as swiftly as the unfamiliar expressions that peer towards the door upon arrival.
Promotional NASCAR materials from the glory days of Cale Yarborough, Bobby Alison and Dale Earnhardt Sr. decorate the walls and in between booths. A lone waitress, equipped with a raspy voice and the ability to recall “the usual” from her regulars, chimes in with her Middle American patrons to chat about Obama or the Penn State football scandal. Farmers, truckers, contractors, county officials, retirees, the unemployed and community gossipers speak assure each other across tables even though they may not really know each other. An older lady, perhaps Linda, works the kitchen with her assistant serving up hash browns, fried fish tail, pork loin, canned beets, peaches in syrup, cottage cheese, hard boiled eggs, cheeseburgers, mashed potatoes and gravy… lots of gravy.
This scene has not changed much in the relatively short amount of time between our visits. I suspect that if I return in 3 or 5 or even 10 years from now the script would render just the same. It’s as if a play on life was written years ago yet still remains viable and interesting. It’s entirely possible that I could open the restaurant at 5:00 AM, quietly blend in with the environment, witness and record the interaction and personalities that sway the dynamics of Linda’s Restaurant, and relay my work in a way that speaks to generations.
Linda’s Restaurant No. 1 : “Welcome to Linda’s Restaurant”, Xenia, Ohio
Linda’s Restaurant No. 2 : “Coffee, Canned Beets and Hard Boiled Eggs”, Xenia, Ohio
Linda’s Restaurant No. 3 : “Fried Fish Tail, Cottage Cheese, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy”, Xenia, Ohio
Linda’s Restaurant No. 4 : “Servin’ Up Grits”, Xenia, Ohio
Linda’s Restaurant No. 5 : “Pork Loin, Canned Peaches, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy”, Xenia, Ohio