The Apple Pan: A slice of heaven
Outside of a small, cottage-type building with old, dark green double doors, a line begins to form well over a half hour before the Apple Pan doors are set to open at exactly 11 a.m. The Apple Pan stands out not because of its size or vintage appearance, but because it has remained the same for over 63 years.
It feels like a place frozen in time where there is an unspoken protocol by which everyone inside is operating. Diners sit at a long, U-shaped counter. Meanwhile, other customers line the walls, waiting for open seats.
Behind the counter, the servers dash around, cleaning up after guests at the counter to make the transition between groups easier, but which should by no means be mistaken for rushing customers out the door. The place is straightforward, no nonsense, and cash only. It is not cheap, but is average restaurant price in a diner environment.
The hickory burger seems plain at first, and kind of small compared to other burger joints. But with the first bite, there is a surprising kick of flavor.
Surprisingly, though The Apple Pan's burgers use high quality cuts of meat, the part of their burger that gets the most praise from customers is the lettuce.
"We put a thick chunk of lettuce, and even though right now it's more expensive, we still use the same amount," said cook Lupe Gomez.
The simplified menu at the Apple Pan consists of a steak burger, a hickory burger, egg or tuna salad, ham, grilled cheese, and fries. Each sandwich gets their fair share of accolades among the present patrons, but one thing that each person holds in higher regard is their pies.
Made fresh every day, their pies vary from their namesake from apple to pecan, coconut cream, boysenberry, and their highly praised banana cream pie. The only menu change that Gomez could remember in his twenty years of working at the Apple Pan is the addition of lemon meringue pie, which has been discontinued.
The Apple Pan seems to serve as a beacon, pulling in people from far and wide: Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, students seeking a break from studying, and people who have been going there between 20 to 50 years.
"Everything's always been prepared fresh," said Gomez, when asked what the key is to the Apple Pan's favor with diners.
The waiters and cooks, like the loyal customers, have been with the Apple Pan for as long as 20 to 50 years.
"I know fathers and kids since they're little – see those kids?" said Gomez as two toddlers run and play around the line in the front, "If I'm still here, [when they grow up] I'm going to still see them."
For the week of its 60th anniversary, The Apple Pan brought in a jukebox and gave out free apple pie a la mode. The Apple Pan celebrates its 64th anniversary April 11th.