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Highland - April 20

Paula Campbell
Posted 4/19/21

What is more American than a good diner and ordering up “the usual” which for me is some good old fashioned comfort foods from a wide selection menu while sitting in a roomy comfortable booth. …

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Highland - April 20

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What is more American than a good diner and ordering up “the usual” which for me is some good old fashioned comfort foods from a wide selection menu while sitting in a roomy comfortable booth.

Diners are the best place ever to people watch and take in the everyday happenings of a town. In the Town of Highland, for the past thirty-two years that meant going to Irene's Eldred Diner on Route 55 next door to the Jeff Bank. Irene's as it is known to the locals checks off all the boxes for a great diner and yes, there is a real Irene rattling the pots and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Irene Jakubowski and her husband Jessie moved to Eldred with their four kids and opened the Diner in March 1989 in a building that shared space with her husband's garage. Over the years Irene carefully crafted a menu of favorites for her breakfast and lunch customers. In years past, Irene also had space in the building where she operated a Polish grocery store and deli featuring Polish foods and groceries.

Over the years she told me the Polish population changed and she closed the Deli store. I started frequenting Irene's when I first moved to Highland some twenty-five years ago. While growing up in Boston I had many Polish friends and eating in their kitchens learned to love their delicious traditional foods. “Well because of my heritage I always have some Polish foods on my menu and who doesn't love freshly made pierogies with a dollop of sour cream or stuffed cabbage with home fries on the side? I drive to a small Polish Company in New Jersey to get the best quality Kielbasa for my cabbage soup because it makes a difference in the taste of the soup. People are working hard and they gotta eat good stick to your ribs food to keep them going” Irene told me.

The conscientious Jakubowski family worked hard to build up their businesses and then in 2018 their oldest son Jessie Jr. died unexpectantly of a brain aneurism at the age of 43 years old. Irene told me that her husband had successful surgery for a brain aneurism some eight years before Jessie's death and her family was devastated by Jesse Jr.'s loss.

Searching for a way to honor his memory and passion for auto mechanics and classic cars, in 2019 they founded the Jessie J Foundation that awards scholarships to students from the Eldred Central School interested in pursuing vocational studies in auto mechanics and to continue Jessie Jr's legacy into the future. That same year, the Foundation sponsored a very successful classic car show and there are plans for another show when the pandemic protocols will allow for a safe event.

Then due to the corona virus lockdown, the Diner closed for two years. During that time Irene was called upon to make up some of her restorative cabbage soup for her ailing friends who needed a hearty boost, and she delivered her gift of soup in its cooking pot ready to go.

Irene told me that she thought long and hard about reopening but that she missed seeing her Diner filled with people enjoying their meal and most of all she missed the togetherness and her customers, so she decided the time was right to reopen.

Now, once again we can enjoy her famous “Breakfast for Champions” menu and have Irene's Hungry Man Omelet (four eggs, sausages, ham, onions, peppers, and hash browns or her 2-2-2 (two eggs, two pancakes and two pieces of bacon). In addition to her extensive lunch options, there are always three freshly made soups and two sandwich specials every day.

With a menu of over twenty breakfast choices and twenty-five lunch offerings this very friendly reasonably priced Diner is the place to go when you are hungry. After completing some very pleasing interior upgrades Irene's Grand Re-Opening will be on Saturday, May 1st and the Diner will be open every day from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays.) I am hoping for some better days ahead for all of us Irene said.

For more information go to the Diner's Facebook page or call (845) 456-0288. Definitely-see you there.

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