RICHMOND -- They say everyone has a gift in life. Recently, I discovered mine is meeting people from the Buffalo area in places outside the Buffalo area. If someday I climb Mount Everest, I am 100 percent certain that the Sherpa will have been born at Buffalo General Hospital.
I’ve bumped into so many Western New Yorkers in so many strange places during my travels that it has become a running joke with my family. I’ll come across someone from the area, somewhere, somehow. It's easy to suggest that the older you get, the smaller the world becomes, the greater likelihood of such coincidences.
This is something different.
I’m telling you, it’s a gift.
It’s with that in mind that I take you to the City Diner, an old joint on Broad Street across the street from the Science Museum of Richmond. It's a short distance from Richmond Coliseum, where St. Bonaventure is playing Virginia Commonwealth at 2 p.m. in the Atlantic 10 women's basketball tournament.
FYI: I have an affinity for diners and seek them when traveling. Someday, I’ll come up with a top 10 list of my favorite places across North America. City Diner is definitely in the top five.
City Diner covers two D’s in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and by that I mean there’s no drive-in. I discovered the place in the past two years while visiting my son, a sophomore at the University of Richmond. It’s a dumpy place with great food in a city with too many chain restaurants and lacking old neighborhood joints.
In other words, it’s perfect.
The cashier at City Diner, an older gentleman I recognized from previous visits, was wearing a Sabres cap today. Naturally, I asked him why someone in this tiny restaurant in downtown Richmond would wear a Sabres cap. Richmond cares about hockey the way Buffalo cares about cricket. He told me he’s from Tonawanda.
Why, of course.
Meanwhile, in the middle of our conversation, another man around 50 years old entered the restaurant sat down next to me. He caught the tail end of the conversation with the cashier. He grew up in East Aurora and happened to be passing through town while driving from Washington D.C., to his home in Chapel Hill, N.C.
A few minutes later, after parking my vehicle in the ramp across from the Coliseum, I passed a man who was walking to his car. He must have noticed that I wore a light windbreaker and mentioned something about the weather. I told him I was from Buffalo and gave him my standard line, how we grow flowers and sunbathe when the temperature hits 35.
"Really?" he said. "I'm from Kenmore."
All that in about 20 minutes.
It never fails.