By Kate Flinn
Mike’s on Main, a small family-owned diner, operates like a perfectly preserved time capsule of quintessential Hendersonville at the height of the 1950s. At 9:00am, only a few people had begun to occupy the restaurant’s eclectic selection of mismatched wooden tables and booths. A long marble bar with metallic stools spans the right wall, accentuated by a large antique cash register fashioned from brass. While its shape and intricate design aligned with the vintage façade, the contraption still functioned as the restaurant’s main cash register. A young waiter dressed in a light blue bow tie and old-fashioned paper hat hurries past, his arms precariously balanced with food. He smiled and sent off a, “Sit where you like,” in passing.
The strong presence of antique Coca-Cola memorabilia is immediately noticeable. Somehow the knick-knacks and wall adornments give the place a sense of authenticity. A woman approaches the booth in full 1950s attire, poodle skirt and high ponytail included. With a warm greeting she says, “Now where are you girls from?” This has become a pattern throughout our journey in the Foothills; wherever we went, people quickly knew we were outsiders. We politely list off our respective hometowns and put in orders for some piping hot coffee.
Flipping through the extensive menu, it became clear that Mike’s offerings cover any desire that a breakfast-lover could think up. Pancakes, waffles, crepes, and a generous selection of home-style omelets–this place had the works. A feature of the menu was the “Southern Style Breakfast Bowl” section of the menu, the accompanying pictures worthy of a stomach grumble. Despite the waitress’ warning that the breakfast bowls were spilling, a side of pancakes are added for good measure.
The meals arrive after a short wait, while no room for disappointment. The general concept of Mike’s breakfast bowls begins with your choice of a hash brown or grits base. Next comes two eggs prepared to your liking, fried comes highly recommended, and then finally a last layer of whatever toppings come with the bowl of your choosing. The Denver bowl is garnished with ham, tomatoes, green pepper, onions and a whole lot of cheddar cheese. The flavors of the dish are perfectly proportioned, neither too overpowering or understated, achieving a perfect point of content fullness–that is, pre-pancakes, browned to perfection and fluffy like you can only find at a diner. A return visit to Hendersonville Mike’s pancakes will definitely be at the top of Hendersonville’s to-eat list.
Aside from the excellent food, superb service and eccentric décor, part of what makes Mike’s so unique is its history. Mike’s is the most-photographed building in Hendersonville, and with good reason. Between the candy-striped awning and hand painted Coca Cola mural outside, this corner shop is an iconic spot for documenting your trip to the quaint little town. Originally built in 1900, what is now Mike’s on Main was once Justus Pharmacy. As was true back in 1900, this building still houses the only soda fountain in Hendersonville. Many of the trinkets and artifacts you see lying about date back over one hundred years to the original pharmacy. Filled with good food and people and history, Mike’s on Main is a must for any Hendersonville visitors.