NATICK (CBS) – It happens here in Natick. The country’s first factory to manufacture baseballs was located here. Boston Marathon athletes run five of their 26.2 miles through this MetroWest suburb. It’s also home to Natick Labs, where the Army researches innovative solutions to feed U.S. troops around the world.
Just down the street, the food is a lot less high-tech. That’s where you’ll find Casey’s Diner, one of the oldest 10-seat lunch counters in the country, where they have been serving up hot dogs long before anyone had ever heard of a Fenway Frank.
“When we first started in 1890, the whole menu was pie, coffee and hot dogs and everything was a nickel,” explained current owner Patrick Casey.
Patrick’s great, great grandfather started with a horse-drawn wagon that was parked on Natick Common. Today, Patrick still uses the bun steamer from that original cart. “It’s at least 129 years old,” he said peering into the copper box-like device that gently warms several dozen soft rolls at a time.
The “new” building was built by the Worcester Lunch Car company and has been around since 1922. Stepping inside is like a trip in a time machine. The long wooden counter is worn along the edge from years of elbows leaning in for a bite. The classic diner stools remind you of something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, and the coffee maker looks like an old furnace.
“It’s lined with glass,” Patrick said describing the inner workings of the 100-year-old machine.
The menu has changed a bit over the years. Burgers are big now, there is even a breakfast version.
Greg Kaiser has been coming here since he was a kid. “It’s essentially just like the show cheers, everyone knows your name,” he said.
If you’re a regular, Patrick will know your order as well. He knew Janet Matthews wanted half of her tuna melt packed to take home and his friend Bill was on a no carb diet, so he got his burgers with no bun.
Casey’s Diner has been passed from father to son for four generations, but Patrick has three daughters. “I guess it’s time for a woman to run the joint,” he told WBZ-TV.
No matter who is in charge and what’s on the menu, hot dogs will always be the main event either at the counter or from the to go window at the end of the 20-foot building.
Few people eat just one. Patrick says the record is three dozen and if anyone wants to try to break it, he’ll give you an hour and he’s buying.