I grew up in the 90’s. That decade of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Spice Girls, and Titanic. Maybe then it’s apparent why I am afflicted, like so many others in my generation, with nostalgia for times I never experienced. The television show Mad Men is perhaps the biggest and best example of this phenomenon. Without ever having experienced the 1950’s and 60’s, we are enthralled, and alternately horrified, by the fashions, the music, the attitudes, and by Don Draper himself.
I felt something similar when I walked into Cira’s Restaurant right here in South Bend. For 58 years, the restaurant has served breakfast and lunch from its cozy location on Miami Street. The décor appears to have never been changed. There are mint-green booths along the side and orange stools facing a counter you can imagine has served many a South Bend resident. The waitress welcomed us cheerfully and continued to serve us, cheerfully, even as we proceeded to request breakfast items after the breakfast window had closed. The ambiance is homey and distinctly old-fashioned, if what we mean by that is simply that it was created in an older time. The menu features an extensive list of diner fare and there are always several specials of the day. And as it typically goes in South Bend, you can get the food for very cheap.
Yet there’s an important distinction to make. Unlike Mad Men or other forms of nostalgia, Cira’s isn’t merely a relic. It’s a functioning restaurant that has survived to bring us not only a retro charm, but eggs and toast, hot, on a Saturday morning.
2007 Miami Street