South of the Fraser

Surrey, Delta, White Rock and Langleys

Zellers Family Restaurant

Burger and fries presentation. Classic.

This isn't a food or restaurant review. Or maybe it is, sort of, but only incidentally. It's more about using space and creating an environment.

I stumbled across Zeller's in-store restaurant at Central City by accident and immediately realized that it was a gem.

Set in the top-floor corner, by the mall entrance, it's all decked out in teal and chrome. Nicely retro.

They even sell cigarettes behind the cash register, although they're hidden by a discrete red curtain. 

There's a lunch counter with bar stools (teal and chrome), a few stand-alone tables and high-backed booths. And just behind the pony wall is the bustle of the store, all under those powerful lights.

I love these kinds of places.

It's an old-school diner, even though it's called a family restaurant. Sure, I'd take my family there. I'm not sure if or how the restaurant trade differentiates between the two.

My wife had the grilled cheese, with yam fries, and I the classic burger. It was the special. We sat at a table that had a booth-back on one side and chairs on the other. The booths were just a tad too tight to be comfortable. The food was fine, the prices were in-line with what we got. The servers were great. There were a few people-watching opportunities (discretely, of course).

Eventually all these sorts of places will disappear and be replaced by disturbingly clinically-perfect franchises; places with perfect lighting, hot young waiters, and menu items with a confusing array of tongue-twisting nouns and verbs. 

My wife, who puts up with my occasional outbursts of enthusiasm with good grace, after concurring that it was a nice place pointed out a few things that could be done better:

  • The art on the walls doesn't follow the theme very well. They look like stock images the restaurant got from Sysco as a premium for ordering the big box of frozen burgers.
  • The light is pretty harsh.

She's right, of course.

But then, this isn't the 1950s, and Fonzie and the gang won't be dropping by on their way to pick up some work socks. It's a low-end restaurant in a discount store in a mall. These small design oversights overlay the reality of modern food preparation over a meme of that classic american diner. Somehow, it's those imperfections that make this diner far more authentic than if it had been done "right".

Cafe coffee: ceramic mugs and a formica table top


Info on South of the Fraser River: Surrey, Delta, White Rock, City of Langley, Township of Langley, Fort Langley. Maybe a bit of Abbotsford, just for fun.

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