Editor’s note: This is a weekly series focusing on the importance of buying local.
In the middle of downtown Bentleyville sits the Carlton Diner.
Opened in early January 2020, after moving from its former location – just off Interstate-70 – it is indeed at the center of activity.
The Carlton Diner is a shining star among small-town restaurants and diners.
The reasons are multiple but simple.
“We’re doing really well,” said co-owner Joe Mendola. “There’s a lot of different reasons. We don’t have trouble with employees. We are fully staffed. Our employees are absolutely the key to our success. We have high-quality individuals working here. We tend to keep employees happy. We have a waiting list of people who want to work here. But we don’t have any openings right now.”
Mendola said Carlton Diner’s employees take “personal pride and interest” in the business.
“Our customers are wonderful and we enjoy having a good time in here,” Mendola said. “We have great customers, and we get a lot of new customers.”
Incredibly, Mendola said the diner has more customers from the interstate now than it did when it was located beside the highway.
“We’re fortunate our customers talk to their friends and recommend us,” he added. “We try to treat people extremely well.
The Carlton Diner has featured comfort food for more than four decades. Initially, at its Bentleyville location breakfast and lunch was the focus. When the pandemic hit, Mendola and his co-owners, Jennifer and Matt Cario, shifted directions – offering take-out dinners and family-packed meals.
Mendola credited the Carios for developing an online ordering system.
“The community responded well to it and we then added a delivery service for those who didn’t want to leave their homes. We tried to change things to help the community. It helped us stay in business. It has worked out well.”
Jennifer Cario makes the diner’s popular desserts.
“Jennifer makes fantastic things,” Mendola said. “We quite frequently sell out of desserts.
Some other local favorites include:
The Doghouse Diner
- , Washington, a staple for more than 30 years with breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- , Perryopolis, cozy dining area with daily specials and an array of desserts, including famous pies.
- , Washington, features affordable home style cooking and a delectable fish sandwich.
The Early Bird Diner
- , Donora, there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s tough to beat the breakfast, especially the omelets.
Chuck Wagon Restaurant
- , National Pike West, Brownsville, 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., family style breakfast and lunch served all day. This throwback style never fails to deliver. Watch the staff make the food.
Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can call Chris Slota at 724-225-1326 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Discount cards are available at the Observer-Reporter and Almanac office, 122 S. Main St., Washington.