I had no intention of being the final diner at Tiffin Inn, the landmark Metairie restaurant that closed for business at midnight on Sunday June 1st 2015.
But I got turned around on Veterans Highway and ended up walking in with only 5 minutes left to spare before they closed their doors forever.
“We close in 5 minutes” I am archly informed by the cashier.
“I know and I apologize but I drove from the Bywater and got turned around trying to get here.”
I spy a silver haired man sitting at a booth nearby. “Are you a regular?”
He looks surprised. “Nah, I own the place”
Back when Moses was young, Saleem Sabagh immigrated from Lebanon to attend college in Hammond, Louisiana. The then-young entrepreneur started Tiffin Inn which quickly morphed into a chain featuring 15 restaurants. “I had a Tiffin Inn in Chattanooga” Mr Sabagh explained to me. I ask him if he knows the Zarzours, another Lebanese family who run the eponymous restaurant in the city.
The cashier walks over “your food is ready”
I can tell she wants to hurl the plate at me so I attend to my pancakes.
They’re fine. Billed as silver dollars they’re actually about 4″ across and have spent the appropriate amount of time on the griddle.
Patrons are walking around taking pictures of the walls and hugging the lone waitress.
It’s an emotional scene.
I finish my plate and make my way to the door. Mr Sabagh and the rest of us all walk into the parking lot. Everyone starts lamenting the changes that have come to Metairie that have forced the closure of the lone remaining Tiffin Inn.
I wheel out of the parking lot as Mr Sabagh fires an enormous briar and exhales a giant cloud of pipe smoke.
As I turn on to Veterans Blvd he’s staring at the sign towering above his old restaurant.