The 41-year-old Humdinger Drive-In (2504 East Ninth Street) still serves the best cheeseburger in town -- for just $2.39.
The cheeseburgers are nearly as good as the classic breakfasts served at the seventy-year-old Cascone's Grill (20 East Fifth Street). Still family owned after all these years, Cascone's will soon make its fourth move -- across the street from its longtime location in the City Market building.
"We're scheduled to be in the new place on June 1," says George Cascone, who owns the restaurant with his brother, Frank Cascone, and sister, Lou Ann Treece. "And we're taking as much of the stuff from the old place as we can."
That may not include the stainless-steel, multicup Curtis Lo-Boil coffee tureen, which has been a fixture of the restaurant's open kitchen for the last few decades. "We've got a new coffeemaker that looks just like it, but it's a little fancier," Cascone says. "We plan to change our coffee, too. We're going to go with Necco instead of Cain's."
The new location will be bigger, of course, than the cozy, 42-seat diner in the Market, where the Cascone family has been dishing up airy pancakes, eggs, buttered slabs of toasted Roma bread, cheesy lasagna, "deluxe" burgers and Italian steak sandwiches for the past 32 years. Prior to 1971, the restaurant was back across the street, close to the new location at 19 East Fifth Street.
"My parents, Sam and Vita, ran that place from 1955 to 1971," Cascone says. "It was bigger than the City Market location, too. It had 65 seats, but it was never as busy as we are now because we hadn't built up our reputation as a great place to get breakfast in those days."
When Sam's parents opened the first Cascone's Grill in the 1930s, it was a three-stool affair located under their apartment. Vita and Sam moved the diner to the River Market area and later took over from Sam's parents. Now that the third generation of Cascones runs the business, the fourth move will be the most dramatic. "We're going to have 96 seats, a nonsmoking section and a completely open kitchen with everything out front instead of just the grill," Cascone says. "And I'm thinking about expanding our hours to include a Friday-night dinner. I've got some talent for cooking dinners that our customers haven't seen yet, so get ready."