Story and photos by Lauren Chamberlain
Located in the village of Waterloo and just a stone’s throw from Seneca Falls lies one of my favorite places to indulge – Connie’s Diner. Located on East Main Street, this 60s-inspired retro style establishment is one of the best true diner experiences in the area. Connie’s Diner is unique and has a wide variety of options from rich waffles to their delicious family recipe lasagna to extravagant milkshakes.
Now retired owner Connie Caratozzolo always admired the ambiance of a classic, authentic diner. Connie previously worked as a chef at Hobart College living with her dream of owning her own restaurant. On one fine spring day in 1989 she was out with her daughter, Maryann, at Chick’s Diner, nursing a cup of coffee. With her dream itching in the back of her mind, she approached the owner, Sharon Podgorny, about purchasing the 1963 diner. Even though the diner was not officially on the market, her offer was accepted. By April of 1989, Connie’s Diner opened to the community. Throughout the years her family has worked tirelessly together, including her daughter Maryann, her sons, Paul and Carmen, and husband, Frank to make this diner what it is today.
The family continues to feed generations of families from all over the Finger Lakes Region and beyond. Their homemade sauces, gravies and pies make for a dining experience that brings people back time and time again. My friends and I from Keuka College have been making the forty or so minute drive there one or twice a semester because of how good it is. Even though Connie retired in 1998, her boys keep it running. With around 38 employees – including nine from the family – they keep their mother’s dream alive.
Besides the wonderful and affordable food options, part of the charm is the palpable homey feel you get when eating there. The diner upholds that classic “golden age” diner feel with the retro booths, colors, uniforms and decor. I am a big classic music and movie fan so the portraits of The Beatles, Elvis, The Beach Boys, Audrey Hepburn and the vinyls lining the ceiling are really amazing. On top of the food and environment, the staff is always kind and the service is quick, even when the diner is packed, which, in my experience, it typically is. One thing to remember is that the diner is cash only, so don’t forget to visit the ATM on your way to Waterloo!
So next time you start craving a homemade pie, an avant garde milkshake or have a craving for a warm, home cooked meal, head on over to Connie’s Diner in Waterloo and you will not be disappointed. Nor will you leave feeling anything less than stuffed.