It always happens this way: The funeral details are announced, and folks who have been AWOL for years suddenly show up, bemoaning how they should have stayed in touch. They might even bring a nice sheet cake to express their sympathy — and drown their sorrow and guilt in frosting.
The folks who arrived this past weekend at Capital City Diner, on the other hand, brought only their appetites, even if a number of them (such as yours truly) dragged with them a slightly guilty conscience for not frequenting the Trinidad diner enough to prevent its demise.
“The last day went well,” owner Matt Ashburn e-mailed earlier this morning after shutting down the diner Sunday, perhaps for the last time under his watch.
“It was a bit busier than yesterday, and we had several folks come by both days,” Ashburn continued. “Some came by multiple times one or both days. It was very touching to say the least, and I got pretty emotional over the past two days. It was very difficult to get up and go to the diner today, knowing it might well be the last time I see most of the regulars.”
The wife and I stopped by for lunch on Saturday to find the 1940’s-era diner packed with regulars and gawkers, all looking to take their last meal, in a bit of role reversal, before Ashburn killed off his restaurant. The owner was decidedly somber, but also generous with his attentions. He insisted we try his fried chicken (a crispy, salty counterpunch to the usual companion syrupy malted waffles) and his individual bottles of Vermont Grade A Medium Amber syrup (so good, I licked it straight off my finger).
And as he had always done, Ashburn worked the counter, taking orders, delivering plates and topping off coffee mugs. It would have seemed like any other day at Capital City Diner, except it wasn’t, as evidence by this Tweet via the diner’s account, composed around midnight:
The diner’s future remains foggy, even though Ashburn received numerous overtures and ideas on what he should do with Cap City. “As I’ve told many people who’ve asked, I want the diner to stay where it is, preferably as a diner,” Ashburn noted. “However, if I can’t work that out, I’ll have to consider other options.”
More photos from Saturday: