After hours: Diner seeks to bring Americans closer to home
September 18, 2008
The dining-car theme at Benjamins American Diner makes for a good first impression, particularly the murals, wood paneling and generously sized booths.
"Do not lean out of the window when the train is moving," a small sign at one table advises in jest.
After all, a person might get the wrong impression. You don’t have to be in the restaurant business to know that such a sight could derail food operations
On this day, the patrons are leaning over their lunch, instead, as waitress Irga Alazar hustles to stay on track as the orders roll in. Steam can be seen rising from the diner’s kitchen as a lone chef handles most, if not all, of the ticket orders.
Benjamins American Diner in Mannheim, Germany, offers a wide assortment of stateside favorites, from cheeseburgers and barbecue ribs to Reuben sandwiches and milkshakes. The fare also includes such favorites as chicken wings, onion rings, potato skins, tacos and Philly cheese steak sandwiches.
"We get a lot of Americans," Alazar says, "and on Saturdays breakfast is very popular."
Patrons interviewed for this piece concurred, noting how busy the place can get on weekend mornings. However, some customers said orders take too long to turn.
"It’s kind of slow," customer Jessica Rigdon said of the service, "so it’s not a place to go if you are in a hurry for lunch."
Rigdon, who works in the local USO office, and her husband have had breakfast at Benjamins several times. A native of New Jersey, Rigdon says she relishes any chance to enjoy a traditional American breakfast.
"It’s not a bad place to go for pancakes, or for bacon and eggs," Rigdon said.
The diner has a small patio as well as a couple of areas upstairs to handle the peak periods. Unlike the main dining room, decorated to resemble a dining car, the second floor looks more like the setting for a hoedown.
Perhaps the best thing Benjamins has going for itself is its location. The Benjamin Franklin Village shopping area is but a horseshoe toss from the diner. It also has a wide-screen television and a small bar in the main compartment.
But ultimately this is a place folks go to calm their cravings for diner-style food.
"I would recommend it for its family atmosphere," Rigdon said.
Benjamins American Diner - Mannheim, Germany
Hours: Diner opens at 9 a.m. every day. It closes at 11 p.m., except on Friday and Saturday, when it stays open till midnight.
Specials: Meals are moderately priced. Expect to pay about 10 euros for breakfast. Lunch and dinner could be more, or less, depending on the order.
Clientele: About 40 percent of the clientele are Americans affiliated with the U.S. government.
Location: Gorxheimer Strasse 9, Mannheim. Restaurant is located just off the southwest corner of Benjamin Franklin Village shopping area. The diner is along a frontage road that is parallel with B38/A659. Prepare to exit as if going to BFV, but skirt past the ramp and the diner is just beyond the overpass.