Welcome to the family

You're sure to feel like family at the Chrome Plated Diner

Chrome Plated Diner's French toast with strawberries, photography by Neal Bruns
Reese's Cup pie with Snickers pie from Chrome Plated Diner, photography by Neal Bruns

It’s all about family at Chrome Plated Diner on North Anthony Boulevard. The restaurant’s owners are married (to each other!) and have both been in the restaurant business with their families for years.
Family is what it feels like when you’re waited on by Chrome Plated’s exceptional servers, a fast and happy bunch headed by co-owner Tiffany Smith. Your coffee won’t get cold, and your tummy will be happy with the homestyle breakfast and lunches served up by Smith’s husband (and co-owner) Torey Smith and his team in the kitchen.

Fortunately, at this family-style restaurant, your family won’t be fighting about who gets that last piece of bacon or how the eggs should be cooked. Instead, they’ll be busy sopping up the delightfully runny egg yolks or – even better – the sausage gravy that is so good it’s available as a side all on its own. When it comes atop one of the Chrome Plated Diner’s egg skillets, it transforms the ordinary ingredients into a shining example of what can be done with just eggs, meat and potatoes.

Eggs are indeed the star here, with many different styles from Eggs Benedict to breakfast burritos stuffed with scrambled eggs. Waffles, pancakes and breakfast sandwiches round out the breakfast menu. For lunch, diners can choose burgers named for 1950s-era cars (in keeping with its Fab 50s theme), like the Hot Rod, a 1/3-pound burger topped with jalapeños, or the Bleu 65 GTC, whose 1/3-pound patty is stuffed with bleu cheese. (That’s Torey’s favorite, by the way, and a favorite among regular customers). Sandwiches, grilled chicken and Philly Cheesesteaks (whose recipe Torey reluctantly shared with us) are also on the menu. The diner is open for breakfast and lunch only, except on Friday evenings, when it hosts an all-you-can-eat fish fry, using Torey’s grandparents’ breading recipes.

The diner celebrates its fourth birthday in February, but both the Smiths have many more years of restaurant experience than that. Indeed, the pair met on the job at the former Sharon’s Diner at the Marketplace of Canterbury, which was owned by Torey’s mom – whose father, Willie Adams, is the restaurateur behind Willie’s Family Restaurant on St. Joe Center Road. Torey started his restaurant career at age 10, washing dishes in his grandfather’s diner, and Chrome Plated Diner doesn’t stray from the family’s long history of serving up good, inexpensive meals to Fort Waynians.

The idea for the diner came about, Torey said, when the couple was sitting at Willie’s after church one Sunday, and Torey, who was working for a chain pizza restaurant as a manager, told Tiffany, “I really want to open (my own) restaurant,” Torey recalled. “We knew right then the diner style we wanted.”

That meant good, classic diner food with an emphasis on quality ingredients and a friendly staff. The name was Tiffany’s inspiration, following the 1950s theme of cool chrome. The interior of the restaurant is painted in reds, grays and blacks, and automobile knickknacks serve as decoration. Tiffany handles front-of-house duties, while Torey mans the grill along with his younger brother, Shane Willett, and Torey’s son Dakohta.

“I’m not a people person,” Torey admitted. Fortunately, Tiffany “enjoys mingling.”

Diners venturing to Chrome Plated Diner for the first time should keep one thing in mind: Save room for pie. The diner’s pies are to-die-for, and the style of pie ranges from lusciously velvety fruit pies to mile-high, whipped-cream-topped works of art. The recipes were created by Torey’s mom, and the pies are all homemade. The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup is particularly tasty.

“My main goal is to make all of the customers part of the family,” Tiffany said.

Chrome Plated Diner

3434 N. Anthony Blvd.

(260) 387-7692

Hours: 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Thurs., 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Fri.

Specialties: Down-home diner food, with all you can eat fish fries on Fridays, plus delightful pies.

Chrome Plated Diner’s Philly Cheesesteak

Makes 1 large sandwich

14 ounces shaved ribeye (available at delis)
2 ounces diced onion
2 ounces diced green pepper
1 red pepper, stem, ribs and seeds removed, sliced lengthwise
1 yellow pepper, stem, ribs and seeds removed, sliced lengthwise
1 orange pepper, stem, ribs and seeds removed, sliced lengthwise
Swiss cheese slices, to taste
8-inch sub bun
Pinch of salt and pepper
Light olive oil

1.    Lightly butter the sub bun, and place face-down in pan over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until lightly toasted.

2.    In a separate pan, toss the shaved ribeye with salt and pepper, and cook for approximately 2 minutes per side over medium heat.

3.    Meanwhile, sauté diced onions and green pepper in a little light olive oil. Sauté red, yellow and orange pepper slices in olive oil, and combine with sautéed diced onions and green peppers.

4.    Place onion and pepper mixture on top of cooked ribeye while still in the pan and top with Swiss cheese. Cover with lid for about 20 seconds to slightly melt the cheese.

5.    Layer meat and vegetable-cheese mixture on toasted sub bun, and serve.

First appeared in the December 2015 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine.

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