Follow us:

UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

April 16, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Philadelphia's Mayfair Diner is the place for Sunday breakfast and presidential visits

Philadelphia's Mayfair Diner on Frankfurt Avenue, taken April 15, 2012. (Elizabeth Wiley/UW Election Eye)

Philadelphia's Mayfair Diner on Frankfurt Avenue on April 15, 2012. (Elizabeth Wiley/UW Election Eye)

It’s Sunday at the Mayfair Diner in Philadelphia and it’s game day: The Philadelphia Phillies have a 1:35 p.m. start at Citizens Bank Park against the New York Mets, so half of the tables are decked out in red Phillies swag. It has the feel of a relaxed pre-party with pancakes.

PHILADELPHIA — If you visit this city’s iconic Mayfair Diner on a Sunday, entering through well-worn stainless steel doors, there is a good chance that hostess Nancy Cienskowski will greet you and escort you to an open booth, menus in hand.

Cienskowski has worked at the Mayfair since the Nixon administration — also known as the early 1970s. She’s seen her share of U.S. presidents dig in to a plate of eggs and hashbrowns: Bill Clinton visited the Mayfair on election day 1992 and Barack Obama stopped by in 2008.

Lauren Hnosko, Nancy Cienkowski, and Anne Ariosto at the Mayfair Diner on April 15, 2012. (Elizabeth Wiley/UW Election Eye)

Lauren Hnosko, Nancy Cienkowski, and Anne Ariosto at the Mayfair Diner on April 15, 2012. (Elizabeth Wiley/UW Election Eye)

But it’s her regular customers that she enjoys the most. “I’ve watched kids grow up here and now they bring their kids to eat at the Mayfair,” she said.

Some of those kids end up as her colleagues. Waitresses Anne Ariosto, Lauren Hnosko, and Nicole Gutschall are young enough to be Cienskowski’s granddaughters and they dote on her as the Mayfair matriarch.

“I always used to come here as a kid,” said Ariosto, who has been working at the diner for two years. “I’m always excited to come in and see Nancy on Sundays.”

Customers spread out their newspapers on the counter that faces the refrigerated cases of homemade pies and cakes. Waitresses steer heavy mugs of coffee with bowls of creamers balanced on top to grateful diners.

Though Cienskowski says that the economy has created a dip in business, this 1932 institution, under new ownership five years ago, still hums with the clatter of silverware and the familiar ring of the “order up!” bell.

Cienskowski sees everyone coming and going from her perch in front. “See ya Nanc!” a customer calls out with a wave as he heads outside.

“It’s like a home,” says Gutschall.

 

Comments | More in National | Topics: Barack Obama, Barak Obama, Bill Clinton

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►