As Harris Diner turns 40, the owner looks back on the decades


OWEGO (WBNG) – Owego’s Harris Diner opened its doors to the community on March 15, 1982. This week marks 40 years in Tioga County.

You could say it’s in the blood of owner Sam Harris who purchased this space officially owned by Conway’s Club Diner.

“Mom and dad opened Catatonk Coffee Break in Catatonk. I started working with them and we ran the place until my father passed away in 1979,” the owner said. “We kept it running a little longer and then closed it down and I was lucky enough to buy this place.”

During her mother’s lifetime, she even took part in this operation.

“They’re both gone now, but I think they’re still with me, especially my mum,” the owner said.

Reflecting on the decades, Harris said they had to overcome some obstacles.

“The pandemic was bad, but we got through it well,” Harris said. “Good customers helped, a lot of people.”

He mentioned that the 2011 flood was the biggest obstacle.

“We were hit pretty hard on this street here. We were inundated,” he said. “It’s all new from the ground up.”

Waitress Melissa Cotton was there for those challenges and 2022 marks 16 years for her as an employee.

“I have never worked a single day in my life. Well, I did and I didn’t like it, so I started doing that,” Cotton said. “They need their little ray of sunshine in the morning and it would be me because I will welcome you with a smile…”

Looking ahead, the owner hopes to continue his business, continue to make residents happy and meet more friends who come through the door.


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