Hawesway Diner is a landmark for truckers

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May 7 – Truck stop mom-and-pop restaurants have disappeared in recent years, replaced by national chains that offer the same food in every state.

But what is now the Hawesway Diner in the Hawesway 60 Travel Plaza at the intersection of US 60 and Kentucky 2830 is still going strong one year shy of its 60th anniversary.

In 1985, Abbie Mercer, whose family then owned the truck stop, said her father, Benjamin Taylor Hawes, opened what was then called the Dinner Bell in 1963 because he couldn’t find a restaurant in town that pleases him.

In 1984, the restaurant left what is now the Smoke Shop and moved to its current location inside the main building of the county’s only truck stop.

Stephanie Sparks, the current owner of the Hawesway Diner, said the roadhouse feels like home.

She has worked there for 11 years in one capacity or another.

His mother, Shannon Boehmann, runs the Smoke Shop and the Fuel Stop.

Her daughters work for her.

Her stepfather and her husband are both truckers.

And her cousin, Jeri Burk, owned the restaurant for eight years, calling it Lucy’s Diner.

Even the customers feel like family.

Lucy’s Diner closed in March 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to hurt business.

Sparks reopened it in September.

“There wasn’t as much business when it was take-out only,” she said.

But business is coming back strong this year, Sparks said.

“We see people from all walks of life,” she said. “Sometimes they come in groups. We have quite a few locals. There’s a ‘liars’ table’ out front where a group of them gather every morning.”

Otherwise, Sparks said, his business is mostly made up of truckers driving through the county.

“They say they can’t find restaurants at many truck stops anymore,” she said. “They become Denny’s, Subway, McDonald’s. Diners are rare these days. Even after they retire, some truckers come back, even in wheelchairs or with walkers. It’s their life.”

After 59 years, the Hawesway Diner is a landmark, a place where drivers can take a break and have a home-cooked meal.

“I didn’t start cooking until I bought this place,” Sparks said. “Who would have thought that I would end up a cook?

She said the restaurant’s open chili burger is probably the best-selling item on the menu.

And his favourite?

“I’m a cook,” Sparks said. “I don’t have a favorite.”

“The little truck stops are disappearing,” she said. “But there’s been a lot more traffic here since they built the new bridge. Before that, traffic went through Owensboro and a lot of it didn’t come out here.”

Now they do.

The restaurant can accommodate 99 people at peak times.

Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

It’s closed on Sundays.

270-691-7301 [email protected]

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