The more it changes, the more it stays the same--thank God! New Meg's Diner Opens in old Randy&#

Dade County, strategically located at the center of the universe, is a great place to live but not one that is eat up with places to eat out. Thus it was a serious blow this year when the county lost not one but two of The Planet’s Friday-night faves, Randy’s Restaurant and Pat’s Place.

And that’s also why it was commensurately glad tidings when the two families who ran the two restaurants announced that a grandchild from each--who incidentally plan to wed--would open a new restaurant in the Highway 136 West site of Randy’s. The Planet reported on June 1 that the young folks, Michael Howard and Megan Blevins, planned to open by July 1. (Link: )

That joyous consummation has now come to pass, not quite by the 1st though it was close. Meg’s Diner threw open its doors last Tuesday, July 11, and by Friday evening, when The Planet paid a visit, the commodious eatery was as bursting at the seams with hungry Dadeites as ever.

How was it? The Planet thought of the famous quote from novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr: “Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.” (The Planet likes to throw in a bit of French from time to time to justify the money its parents spent on its education.) The adage translates: "The more it changes, the more it’s the same thing.” Which could be good, bad or majorly comforting--and majorly comforting is how The Planet found Meg’s Diner.

Randy’s was just too vital a Dade County institution to lose. It wasn’t only the food (though the food was important--Randy’s used to have the food contract at the county jail, and there are still generations of DUIs reeling around raving about the home-baked bread).

It was also the size of the place, the multiple dining rooms that could accommodate family reunions, club meetings, Chamber of Commerce luncheons, live music in one room that didn't interfere with quiet dining in another. Randy’s had, advertently or in-, become a local community center, where you could eat your steak or pizza rubbing elbows with your neighbors who were doing the same, enjoying the melodious strains wafting in from the west dining room where the Dade County Boys might be pickin' of a Friday evening.

So for The Planet, it was comforting to be nestled again in a window booth in the spacious old place, and what was also comforting was the array of familiar faces. The young proprietors were manning the cash register, but out in the dining room The Planet found a longtime waitress from Pat’s Place, an even longer-time waitress from Randy’s, even for heaven’s sake former Randy’s co-owner Janice Howard, who seemed too busy for The Planet to pester with humorous digs about how was she enjoying her long-awaited retirement?

Change? Bah! Highly over-rated! Who needs it?

For those who do, be assured Meg’s has in fact created its own menu. Randy’s featured everything from pizza to pinto beans, sub sandwiches to steaks, a comprehensive lineup that kept 30-plus employees hopping and the elder Howards working seven days a week. Meg’s has simplified its own brand. The Meg’s menu, at least for now, takes up only a page and a half with plenty of white space.

Featured are the burgers for which both Randy’s and Pat’s were locally famous. Meg’s offers a 5-ounce or 8-ounce hamburger, cheeseburger or mushroom-Swiss burger, from $3.49 for the smaller burger to $5.99 to the larger one with cheese. (The Planet can offer its Planetary Stamp of Approval on the cheeseburger.)

Meg’s also offers a few other sandwiches--BLT, grilled cheese, chicken--as well as hot dogs, sides, a small and two main-dish salads, plus a children’s menu with kid versions of the basics. Dessert items include ice cream and milkshakes.

The other major component of Meg’s menu is the meat-and-veg specials that were Pat’s Place’s stock in trade; but here again the menu is more spare. The Wednesday special is roast beef with two sides, Thursday fried chicken, Friday catfish, Saturday pork chops and Sunday meatloaf. All cost $6.99. (The Planet can also attest, from stealing from the plates of others, for the catfish.)

Meg’s is open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. It is closed Monday and Tuesday.

For more information, readers may call (706) 657-5330, which they may still have in their phones under R for Randy’s. So what’s the point of letting a perfectly good telephone number go to waste?

It would have been an even greater shame to let a perfectly good restaurant site go to waste. (The address is 4276 Highway 136, by the way.)

Let us close this review with two more adages. Here’s one that reflects the fresh young faces behind Meg’s Diner cash register, for those who embrace all things modern and new: Change is the only constant.

And here’s one for those who do not:

Welcome back!

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