Today is day three of Dan Barry’s five part New York Times series about Donna’s Diner in Elyria, Ohio. In the small, economically ravaged city, Mr. Barry has found a charming little diner full of charming characters who gather together to drink coffee and talk about politics, their lives, the economy and the ordinary struggles of ordinary Americans.
“The dateline is Elyria, Ohio, a city of 55,000 about 30 miles southwest of Cleveland. You know this town, even if you have never been here,” reads the accompanying photo caption. After reading pages and pages of his florid prose, Mr. Barry has a good point.
But, we wondered, how do the good people of Elyria feel about being turned into Times fodder?
“It’s the talk of the town, we are just on cloud nine. Nothing like this has ever happened to us before,” Donna Dove of Donna’s Diner said when we reached her this morning. “It’s like when you get a new car and you just keep looking at it because you can’t believe it’s really yours.”
Although there are some new faces since the series began on Sunday, Ms. Dove said she hasn’t seen any dramatic uptick in customers now that she is “world wide.” But some readers have been so moved by Mr. Barry’s words that they have decided to contribute. A woman in Sarasota, Fla. sent a Ms. Dove a check.
“Pete sips coffee and reads The Chronicle-Telegram through the damaged glasses he hopes to replace someday,” Mr. Barry wrote. But now, thanks to the contribution of a sympathetic Times reader in Tennessee, Pete Aldrich will no longer have to see the world through his “thick-lensed eyeglasses [that] are missing one arm.”
Although most of the reaction has been positive, there has been some negative attention–specifically, in the comment section.
“People warned me that the reaction will be about 5 percent negative, but I just focus on the 95 percent that’s positive,” Ms. Dove said. “You can’t dwell on the commenters in Thailand or wherever who think they know Elyria.”
“The Breakfast Club likes it. It gives them something to talk about,” Donna’s daughter Kristy told us, about the older regulars profiled so prominently in the story.