Lower Burrell’s Clark’s Diner is the place for breakfast or lunch
Start your day with the Cafe Mess.
It’s a breakfast dish of eggs, home fries and sausage scrambled together, topped with cheese and covered in a secret-recipe sausage gravy, served with a side of toast.
“It’s a pretty popular selection,” says John Clark, owner of Clark’s Diner in Lower Burrell. The diner offers generous helpings of breakfast and lunch selections daily. “We make the homemade sausage gravy. It’s a big, big plate. Customers really like it.”
That’s not the only item on the menu guests enjoy.
Everything is good, says Nick Bia of New Kensington, who dines there six, sometimes seven, days a week, sitting at the counter.
“The food is good, it’s consistent, and it’s top quality,” says Bia, who owned a catering company and who cooks wings, burgers and more for the New Kensington Eagles Club. “Plus, they know me. If they see my car pull up in the parking lot, they start pouring the coffee.”
Knowing what a customer likes to drink and eat is a reason a family owned business such as Clark’s Diner becomes the go-to stop for the regulars several times a week for not only a meal, but for a place where people know them, says server Heather Nulph.
“I might not remember every regular customer’s name, but I will remember what they like to drink and how they like their eggs,” Nulph says. “This is a wonderful place to work, and we all work so well together. It’s like a family here. It doesn’t matter who needs what, we all pitch in to help. It’s got that old-time feel.”
A 1950s vibe
When you step inside Clark’s Diner you immediately see Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe on the wall in the entry way. They are kind of welcoming those who come by to dine. The place has been described as having a 1950s feel with the checkerboard floors, soda-fountain inspired counter and bright red booths.
It is old school, says Clark.
With the dining area and counter stools, Clark’s Diner can accommodate 70 guests.
Clark purchased it two years ago from his uncle John Crouse when it was Crouse’s Diner. Some people may also remember it as Babe’s Café.
The response has been positive from the community, Clark says.
“I think people really care about buying local and the past few years there has been an even bigger push to buy local,” says Clark of Connellsville. “People in the neighborhood like to support small businesses. When you come here, we treat you like family and we can make it the way you want it.”
Clark says he learned a lot working at Crouse’s Diner for his uncle. Clark’s mother Cathy Clark, who owned Clark’s Landing in Kittanning, also taught him the ins and outs of the restaurant business.
John Clark attended culinary school at Indiana (Pa.) University.
“You learn a lot about the restaurant business mostly by working in one,” he says. “It took me a while to know how much inventory to order – we did run out of eggs — but I pretty much know how much to have now.”
What’s on the menu?
Clark’s Diner serves breakfast and lunch daily. In addition to the aforementioned Cafe Mess, other start-your-day breakfast combinations include Clark’s Breakfast Skillet of two eggs, ham, bacon or sausage, peppers, onions and home fries scrambled together and topped with pepper jack cheese served on a sizzling skillet with flour tortillas and; the Cheese Casserole of two eggs, ham, bacon or sausage, cheesy potato casserole and toast.
Hot from the griddle are stacks of pancakes, French toast and waffles. John Clark offers wrap choices of sausage, bacon, ham, veggie and southwestern starting at $5.29 or one of the nine, three-egg omelet selections.
For lunch, there are appetizers of chicken tenders, cheese sticks, onion rings or jalapeno poppers.
Wraps are also on the lunch menu: chicken, steak or turkey bacon-Swiss. Fresh made hamburgers range from the classic burger to a bacon ranch. There are four chicken and 13 hot sandwiches. Chicken and tuna salad are homemade. House-made soups you will often find include chicken noodle, broccoli cheddar, wedding soup and chicken Florentine. Lenten specials include beer-battered fish with macaroni and cheese and homemade coleslaw and a Po’boy sandwich of beer-battered shrimp, macaroni and cheese and homemade coleslaw.
“I love having someone cook for me, and I enjoy cooking for others,” says John Clark, who can often be found doing the cooking. “When you make a meal for someone, that says you care about them. Our customers are the best and we appreciate their business.”
Clark’s Diner is located at 2709 Leechburg Road, Lower Burrell. Hours are 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Details: 724-334-4400 or facebook.com/ClarksDiner1
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 412-320-7889, [email protected] or via Twitter .