Meet Your Good Neighbor Front Porch Series: Hubbard Avenue Diner
Hubbard Avenue Diner has an amazing pie case and a menu of homemade diner fare but it serves up much more than great food. What makes this restaurant special is the people who come in each day to fill the cozy booths and chrome counter stools.
This Middleton downtown diner isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a family.
“We’ve got a crazy uncle,” laughed co-manager Elizabeth Garcia Hall. “We’ve got your grandma and grandpa. We’ve got your whole family. It’s truly a family here.”
When the pandemic limited in-person dining, Hubbard felt the same pain that so many families feel.
“When our regular customers, who used to come in daily, came to do takeout, the staff would almost run out to their cars,” Garcia said. “They missed that sense of normalcy and that connection that they had.”
The restaurant, which has been offering limited in-person seating and carry-out service, is looking forward to seeing more of its family of customers.
On March 14, Hubbard is once again celebrating Pi Day. The restaurant will serve up its popular pies for just $3.14 a slice and sell commemorative T-shirts that allow customers to receive the deal all year long. Also, customers who wear a past or present Hubbard Avenue Pi Day T-shirt on Pi Day can receive a slice of pie for free.
Pie is one of the signature desserts at the diner. Bakery Manager Ashley Williams said cream pies and fruit pies, like strawberry rhubarb, are especially popular.
“We don’t use any preservatives in our pies,” she said. “Everything is fresh.”
The bakery has a big and loyal following. Williams recently began adding cakes back to the dessert case — cakes are one of her specialties, but had been temporarily placed on hold during the pandemic. The cakes have been selling out in hours.
While the diner’s menu has a wide range of options, Jose Garcia, Hubbard’s other co-manager, said the diner serves all the classics, including breakfast favorites.
“It’s a very traditional diner menu,” he said. “We have ham scalloped potatoes, we have meatloaf, turkey dinner, pancakes, French toast, all of the things people expect to find in a diner.”
The diner is looking forward to serving customers in coming months. It plans to expand outdoor seating when the weather gets warm. The diner is also planning special menus for upcoming holidays like St. Patrick’s Day and Easter.
Garcia said the diner has learned some operational lessons that will put it on better footing when the pandemic passes. In the meantime, he said the support of the community has been a tremendous boost to the staff.
“It’s not just coming in and spending money here, but their moral support, their feedback — the community provides all kinds of things for us, even if it’s just a kind smile when they come in,” he said. “It just makes it all worthwhile.”
Garcia Hall said the diner over the years has been part of so many important moments.
“We have seen people broker business deals, we see people get engaged, regulars bring in their new babies,” she said. “For our staff, having the support of customers and having regulars come back, that has kept them going too. At a time when so many of us can’t see their families, they still got so see a little bit of their (Hubbard) family.
“Even if it was just going out to someone’s car, it made a difference to them.”
About Hubbard Avenue Diner
7445 Hubbard Ave, Middleton, WI 53562
Hours: Daily, 7:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.