HENDRICKSVILLE – If you needed cream for your coffee at Rose's Diner, it was in a metal pitcher in the old white refrigerator by the cash register. You just help yourself.
And breakfast regulars knew that owner and cook Rose Bastin would be cracking their eggs for the grill when they stepped onto the porch from the gravel parking lot. “Everybody understands that if you want something different from your usual, you better tell me when you come through the door,” Bastin said.
On this particular morning, with six eggs frying over-easy and two sausage patties the size of quarter-pound hamburgers sizzling, she took a cleaver to two slices of buttered toast.
It was the 66-year-old tell-it-like-it-is country cook's last week in the diner's galley kitchen. Her last week to drive her truck down Indiana 43 at 4:30 a.m. to open up the restaurant and put on the coffee pot; the biscuits go in the oven at 5:20.
weekBastin would be there a few hours on Saturday, when she would slip out the back door as she handed the diner over to a Solsberry couple. Shelly Furr, a waitress and cook at Rose's for the past year, waits tables. Her husband, Ed Furr, mans the grill.
Last week, Bastin was both cook and waitress; she mostly knows what customers want, or they tell her over the low wall that separates kitchen from dining room.
There were six pickups and one old silver Lincoln Town Car parked outside; about half of the tables were occupied.
Regular Jim Raines wore a gray T-shirt with a message: “Rose's Diner, Home of the Famous Too High Pie.” He orders grits and scrambled eggs about every day for breakfast, “but once in a while he will eat fried potatoes,” Bastin said.
A quarter-century ago, Bastin moved from the Greene County Inn restaurant to this one she established closer to home, about 10 miles west of Bloomington on Indiana 43. She figured she would have a small home-cooking restaurant open four days a week.
But word got out, and customers flocked to Rose's Diner, located in what city people would call “the middle of nowhere.”
Former IU basketball coach Bob Knight discovered the diner when it first opened and was serving three meals a day. Bastin would close down for the night to host team dinners for 30 to 40. “We would cook up everything we had. And they always, always appreciated the pie.” Knight prefers peach or cherry, “but he would eat any kind.” He visited last fall.
Bastin won't miss the zero-degree mornings coming to work before dawn. And she will be seeing her customers: “We'll come down and join the regulars for breakfast once in a while,” she said.