Cote's Diner celebrates 45 years in Pinardville
Many who frequent Cote's Diner, at Pinard Street and Mast Road, have been loyal customers the whole time.
"We still have customers that come in from when we first opened," said Cote. He greets many by name.
In the beginning, customers could spend $1.20 and walk out with a dozen donuts. As both Shaw's and Dunkin' Donuts came to town, Cote said, customers wanted more.
"The people wanted coffee with their doughnuts," Cote said. "Then, they wanted eggs, too," which led to expanding into a diner in 1976.
The restaurant is open seven days a week, with Cote in the kitchen and his wife, Gwen, taking orders and keeping coffee cups full with the help of a part-time staff.
For the Cotes, another busy Monday began at the usual opening time of 4:30 a.m., with Cote making several pork pies using the recipe that belonged to his mother.
Cote, who makes the white and raisin breads used for toast, credits the restaurant's success with his low prices, calling them "the cheapest around."
With a one-egg breakfast that includes choice of meat, home fries, toast and a bottomless cup of coffee for $3.85, customers agree that Cote's offers a great deal.
Most credit Cote with the diner's longevity. He often comes out of the kitchen to chat with customers between orders.
"That's his favorite part, to be out front," Gwen said. "He's quite the entertainer."
Longtime customer Russell Bilodeau said he often would bring his parents to the restaurant. After his mother died three years ago, he made heading to Cote's with his dad a daily routine.
Bilodeau's father died a month ago, but Bilodeau said he still has breakfast with the Cotes nearly every morning.
"It's comforting," Bilodeau said. "It's not just the memories, it's the friendship."
Cote said the business runs well because of hours he and Gwen put in, but he would eventually like to retire.
"We've been for sale for five years; that's how bad the economy is," he said.
Gwen said she is unsure what her husband would do without the business he's spent most of his life building.
"He really loves the people," she said. "I think he'd miss it."