BURGERS AND FRIES AND FLAPPER PIES AT THE BLACKFOOT

(Originally published in the May-June 2002 issue of The Hauler magazine)

By John Geary

People come from miles around for a taste of the Blackfoot Truck Stop's Mile High Flapper Pie.

While that may sound like just another promotional slogan, fans of the renowned pie literally do hail from distant places - even as far away as the United Kingdom.

"We once had to fill a special order to ship some pies in England," says Ray MacKenzie, the assistant manager at the restaurant. "Some people came here to visit, and were so enthralled with the pie, we had to have it packaged in a special container and sent off to London, England."

Located at 1809 - 9 Ave. SE, the diner has been in business for 45 years, and although it has changed its name and location - it used to be called Roylite when it was located on the corner of the Blackfoot Trail - its reputation for great food has not changed. Just try to find a parking spot among all the rigs parked outside at lunch hour.

Edna Taylor has owned the family restaurant since it opened in 1956 and while she still works in the kitchen, she also has three full-time cooks to prepare all the homemade foods dished up to hungry travellers. Everything is baked on the premises: the piecrusts, muffins, date squares - even the bread served with your meals. Don't even bother trying to pry the details from her about how she makes the pies' meringue so incredibly light and fluffy, though - it's a secret recipe.

One of the many appealing features of the restaurant is the fact you can order anything you want, any time of day. Got a hankering for steak and potatoes at 6 a.m.? The Blackfoot will serve it up. Want bacon and eggs for a midnight snack? Chow down at the Blackfoot. That's no small feat, when you consider the restaurant is open 24-7, every day of the year - including Christmas. They also feature regular daily specials.

"For example, we always have some kind of fish on Fridays," says MacKenzie. "Liver and onions has long been a Wednesday specialty."

Then there are the pies …

"Our Flapper Pie is a typical cream filling covered with meringue, and we also serve lemon meringue pie, chocolate cream pie, banana cream pie, coconut cream pie, apple pie, strawberry pie, peanut butter and chocolate pie … and our cherry cheesecake is a big seller for us."

If the food itself wasn't enough, the diner also offers a unique ambience. The walls are covered with nostalgic pictures, many of them from the Hollywood Legends collection, featuring stars like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elvis and Humphrey Bogart in them. They all have tiny lights placed where the artist has painted lights. Several O. Winston Link Railroad Photos of the '50s also adorn the walls. The icing on the nostalgic cake is a scale model railway train that chugs around the perimeter of the dining area on a self suspended from the ceiling.

That's appropriate, considering that in addition to the truckers and Inglewood residents who eat there regularly, quite a few customers from CP Rail pop in for bite.

Just across the parking lot from the restaurant is the Petro Canada Station. The two used to be one building but were rebuilt separately when the old building was torn down in 1980.

While the travelers satisfy their appetites at the diner, Dale Gregorash, and his staff look after their vehicles. Retail gas, card lock fuel for bulk customers, and a tire repair service are available from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., seven days a week.

"It's hard to find a place to do a tire on a Sunday night," the manager says.

Those too rushed to stop at the diner can grab a quick snack to go at the service station.

"We have a variety of snacks in the convenience store," says Gregorash.

However, unless you're really, really rushed, you should stop and at the diner and at least try some pie, as I did recently.

And how was it, you ask?

Well, if Bogey could come down from one of the pictures on the wall, he'd probably say, "It's the stuff dreams are made of … "