Saturday, September 17, 2011


The diner opened in the 1950s, on Main Street in South Portland, Maine. In 1972, the diner was sold to Rudy Ferrante and became Rudy's. When Rudy's son, Robbie, was a junior in high school, he began working at the diner.

Steve Cook and Robbie have been best friends since they were ten years old. In 1996, Steve bought the diner from Rudy, who is now deceased.

On entering the diner, each arrival is enveloped by savory aromas and a homey atmosphere. Looking from the kitchen window, which faces the front door, Robbie, a loquacious jokester, mans the grill and carries on a rolling conversation with his customers.

With regulars, Robbie calls them by name, shares an inside joke or banters about recent sporting events. With newcomers, Robbie often steps from the kitchen, wipes his hands on his apron and shakes their hand. With such a welcome, they immediately feel comfortable enough to belly-up to the counter and partake of Rudy's food and family.

Steve and his eighty-year-old mother, Jenny, own the yellow house behind the diner. Silver-haired Steve is the diner's silent anchor, solid businessman and a chip off his mother's block. Jenny is a crusty dame, with a soft heart. Steve and Jenny wait tables and, with a gleam in their eyes, mutter an occasional satirical comment.

On returning the following day, a Saturday, Robbie and Steve were off playing golf, and Jenny and Beth "womanned" the diner.

Beth grew up in the blue house next door, where her parents still live. Beth has worked in the diner most of her life. In Robbie's absence, without missing a beat, she assumes his role as greeter and cook.

If you are ever hungry and in South Portland, Maine, visit Rudy's Diner, a home away from home, where the food is delicious, the conversation lively and the experience heartwarming.

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