Eleven years ago, when Sarah Murat and her husband, Fatih, started the Delmar Diner they opened their hearts to customers who quickly became like family.
The hometown feeling in the restaurant, at 9506 Ocean Highway in Delmar, Md., is comfortable for customers who like that Sarah Murat knows their names, talks and laughs with them.
When the Murats, natives of Turkey and originally from New Jersey, took over the 60-year-old building, they found, she said, “that we like the people here.”
“It’s a very nice area,” she said.
“Our customers feel like this is home to them because we are like old friends. We are like family. Some people come here to talk to me and we sit down and drink coffee. I like them and I’m here every day so I get to know them,” she said.
Her husband, a chef, is usually in the kitchen making favorite Eastern Shore dishes like scrapple sandwiches, oatmeal from scratch, soups and chicken and dumplings.
“My husband has been in the United States 25 years. He started as a dish washer in the restaurant business and learned to cook in New Jersey, but this is the first restaurant we have owned. It’s a very hard business. Very stressful,” she said.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the diner, which is open from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. Breakfast is available all day and among the favorites are oatmeal and omelets.
“One of the most popular is the Turkish omelet. It has meat and all kinds of vegetables – green peppers, tomatoes, onions. You can get mushrooms in it, spinach. You can put cheese in it. We also have a vegetarian omelet. Our pancakes are made here. All our soups are homemade. We make them fresh every day,” Murat said.
For lunch and dinner there are green salads, chicken salad, grilled chicken, shrimp salad, crab cakes and soft-shelled crabs.
The roast turkey dinner is popular and comes with soup or salad, two vegetables and dessert for about $8. Dinner prices range from $8 to $23 for lobster tail.
On Thursday nights, the restaurant offers a chicken and dumpling special, and keeps the dumplings separate from the meat for vegetarians
“We make everything fresh. Nothing is from a can,” Murat said.
For dessert there’s apple pie, chocolate cake and strawberry shortcake. The rice is pudding is popular, Murat said, and often ordered to go.
Among soups are chicken, cream of crab, Manhattan clam chowder and vegetable beef.
Delmar Diner has a full bar, opened two years ago.
Server Patsy Daugherty greets customers, refills coffee cups and delivers meals without having to write down orders. She and several other servers have been working at the diner since the Murats opened.
Most days at 6 a.m., there are customers waiting to get in. “We unlock the door and they come in with us,” Murat said, laughing.
There’s also a banquet room for parties and reunions.
After church on Sundays, groups of friends and families are at the diner for breakfast or lunch.
“That’s why we are here when they come in, to make them happy,” Murat said.
“I love my customers. I love the people. You have to love the people, otherwise you cannot do this job, without love and personality.”
Reach Susan Canfora at firstname.lastname@example.org.