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The Family Diner: Where locals and tourists mingle

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

Date Modified: 04/19/2013 3:11 PM

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SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa — Ask anyone in Spirit Lake where the best place to eat is and they will direct you to The Family Diner, which is where the locals eat.

They also will praise owners Matt and Darlene Hall for their friendliness.

Before the Halls opened the Family Diner, the building was remodeled. They built counters, cut in windows, painted and selected decor and colors.

The homey atmosphere complements the cooking.

"Our style is homestyle," said Matt Hall. "We make a lot of our food from scratch, using fresh ingredients. We do our own baking."

Sausage is one of the specialties. Matt grinds and seasons the meat. Sausage and biscuits is just one of the ways the sausage is served.

The regular menu is augmented with daily specials.

Specials vary according to season and weather. Salisbury steak, meatloaf, scalloped potatoes and ham and vegetables are specials, and others come from customer recommendations.

Plenty of roast beef is slowly cooked each day. It provides the broth for gravy and other dishes. The Matt Omelet and Darlene Omelet are their two most often requested omelets. It's a specialty they have offered since their cooking careers began.

Hamburgers are also popular.

If any room is left for dessert, homemade cinnamon rolls will surely tempt. Cream pies with mile high meringue are also enticing.

Employees are kept hopping because as soon as a table opens up others walk in the door. They are greeted by a waitress who brings a menu and a glass of water. The Hall's three children often help out.