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Back then, people had a different idea of what constitutes a good meal, too, DeAlto says. "People didn't think twice about ordering french fries, onion rings and fried oysters," he remembers. "That was dinner."

When they celebrate 25 years as Buddy's this December, DeAlto and his wife Mirian plan to de-emphasize the drunken bums and concentrate on the good times and the food. Most of the anachronistic creations they are reviving for a retro-menu, heart-stoppers like fried onions and mushrooms, and the clam sandwich ("God knows if anyone's going to eat one," Mirian wonders), were created by an elderly black cook named Mary Ford, who'd already been cranking open industrial-sized cans of green beans at the place for about 35 years when DeAlto bought it, he says.

Over the years, baring the occasional celebrity — usually about the level of Dennis Haskins, "Saved by the Bell"'s Mr. Belding, who makes an appearance just about every college basketball season — one thing that has remained the same is the clientele, if only the same in spirit. Buddy's is one of the few places in town where people wait in line just to get in for a beer. This corner watering hole has never made itself out to be anything more than that. DeAlto says the only thing that changes are the actual faces, with the continuous arrival of new, younger ones guaranteeing a packed Friday night every week. "That's the thing that's kept us goin'," DeAlto admits. "Basically, we've been able to stay in touch with people who get out every night and mix it up."

— Wayne Melton



Buddy's celebrates its 25th anniversary in December with a customer appreciation month of drink and food specials, plus reunion nights Dec. 13 (targeting the '80s group) and Dec. 14 (targeting the '90s group). 355-3701.

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