Cheap Shot | Delicious Ruts: Digging the Blue Plate Diner 

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I’m not a handyman, but to save a few dollars I do own a toolbox, a few power tools and a shovel. When my kitchen sink was leaking, I didn’t call a plumber, I replaced the faucet. When my dining room light quit working, I learned the positives and the negatives of electricity and installed a new light. When a headstone for my uncle needed replacing, I said, “I can fix that. I own a shovel.”

No need to fret: This uncle died in 1928, and his headstone at Salt Lake City Cemetery had flunked the test of time. I figured I was related to whoever laid him to rest because of how cheap the original tombstone looked. His name, “Ludvig M. Olsen,” had faded to the point that a passer-by might have thought, “Here lies ‘vig O.’”

Digging in the cemetery is a lot easier than you’d think. Not only is the ground soft, but I didn’t need to prove a relationship to the man buried 80 years ago. I just got a permit, grabbed a shovel and made certain I left the cemetery before it closed at dusk. Mentally, however, digging in a cemetery brings every zombie movie to life. And with zombies, the last place you want to be is in a cemetery after dusk.

My friend George was helping me replace the headstone. Rather, I was helping George. This meant we had driven to the cemetery in George’s truck. I mention this because George drives a truck that looks like it was last owned by the Grim Reaper in the 1970s. It’s an old, flatbed, jacked-up truck that sounds like the hounds of hell are stuck in the engine. Its engine doesn’t run on horsepower but on hellfire.

Unfortunately, complications kept us there till after dusk—complications like you see in zombie movies. Digging in a cemetery after dark and the sound of George’s truck should have drawn attention by people opposed to grave digging, but I wasn’t worried—I had a city-certified permit in my pocket. Then, my edible, human brain wandered to the movie the Dawn of the Dead. I couldn’t recall exactly what you had to do to kill a zombie, but I did know a zombie’s Achilles’ heel wasn’t official paperwork from the Salt Lake City Cemetery maintenance department. I told George, “Why don’t we come back in the morning? You know, when it’s light and the cemetery is actually open?” And no one will eat our brains.

The next morning, we uneventfully wrapped up our project. Under the sun, working at the cemetery seemed just as normal as installing a faucet. Until I went from digging over the dead to eating lunch at the Blue Plate Diner (2041 S. 2100 East, 463-1151)

Covered in dirt, I told Tamrika, one of the owners, about my morning in the cemetery; she told me about serving food to Guy Fieri on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

She couldn’t believe I was digging at the cemetery, and I found it hard to believe that Guy Fieri would come to the Blue Plate Diner and not eat eggs. That’s because I realize I dig myself into what I call “delicious ruts.” If a restaurant has a meal I crave, I focus on that item like, well, a bloodthirsty zombie, never deviating from and insanely devoted to my favorite menu item.

For instance, I’ve never had the meatball sub at Moochies because I go there for the Philly cheesesteak. I don’t eat pizza or steak quesadillas at Brewvies because I can’t not order the nachos. And at the Blue Plate Diner, I’ve only eaten the spinach, mushroom and avocado eggs benedict. According to people in their right minds, these restaurants have other things on their menu. With the shovel in my car still covered in dirt, I dug myself out of my first delicious rut. At the Blue Plate Diner, I ordered a BLT with avocadoes. It was to die for.

Where do you frequently dine? Restaurants can be like cemeteries; you occasionally visit the same place, but you can have an entirely new experience if you just dig.

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Phil Jacobsen

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