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Checkers Old Rio

215 Commercial Blvd. Lauderdale By The Sea, FL 33308 | Beaches | 954-491-0642

Location Description:

Diner by-the-Sea is a respite amid a tourist’s block, a local’s place, narrow like boat slips in nearby canals. Even the walls are painted sea blue. Yellow-backed stools march the length of an open kitchen. “Welcome Cindy and Joey!” announces a snapshot on the front of a laminated menu. They’ve actually been working here a year, and they’re the newest hires. A tanned, blond Cindy takes my coffee order, black apron tied loosely around her waist, hair in a casual updo. Joey is the cook in the baseball cap who dances among burners, a counter, and a fridge underneath. He makes diner fare: eggs, home fries, and toast for less than $4, a short stack with bacon, or Susan’s healthy happy veggie omelet for $8. At night, though, Diner by-the-Sea does a full transformation. It becomes the German restaurant Checkers Old-Munchen, which was devastated by an electrical fire. Checkers is owned by Mat Moore, brother of Bill Sand, who owns Diner by-the-Sea. After the fire, Moore worked out a deal with his brother to operate Checkers out of the diner space. At 2 p.m. each day, a second round of cooks preps in the tiny kitchen, and new servers spiff up the front of the house. The night menu offers potato pancakes, goulash, schnitzels, stroganoff, and pork shank: a two-pound monster for only ten bucks. Come to think of it, everything is under $10 here. But the spaetzle, those addictive little German noodles, as a side is my favorite. There’s talk of making this temporary pop-up a permanent location. “My brother wants me to stay,” Moore says. “I’m thinking I just might.” Melissa McCart