Local Culture and College Culture
As the door swings open, five young males stroll into the restaurant displaying earrings, dreadlocks, and counterculture clothing, which causes several dozen flannel-clad, middle-aged men to turn their heads. The young men, all Goshen College students, sit down at a table in the corner and smile to themselves while the other customers continue to stare and chuckle at them for a few minutes. After the smirking waitress comes and kindly takes their orders, the guys recline in their seats and gaze out the window at the dawning sunlight, glad to be back for another quality breakfast at Southern Style.
This scene has become routine for a group of five guys that wake up at 6:30 a.m. each Friday morning (two hours after Southern Style opens) to frequent the restaurant, located beside the Goshen Hardware Do it Center on Rt. 33, about a mile north of the intersection with College Avenue. The tradition began over a year ago when a group of friends (all male) at Goshen College started visiting various local diners on Friday mornings before classes started. The group gradually thinned out to about five regulars, who eventually established Southern Style as the permanent eatery of choice for their Friday morning outings.
The group members give varying reasons for sacrificing sleep to return to Southern Style each week. Joel Beachy cites "food, friendship, and fellowship." Ryan Nofziger likes the "change of pace" from his busy college life that he gets by sitting and socializing for a couple hours in the diner. Andrew Histand (Stan) adds, "After a busy week, when we all convene at Southern Style…it's one of the most beautiful things," as he begins to choke up with emotion. Ryan also enjoys the rare opportunity he has as a college student to "see the sun rise when you wake up" each Friday morning. Another one of the diner's especially meaningful highlights for the group is "the great country-elevator music playing in the background," according to Joel.
Joel also says that a favorite Southern Style activity for the students is "watching the old guys" who constitute the rest of the restaurant's clientele. The vast majority of these customers are male construction workers nearing retirement. Bob, a local drywall worker, has been coming to Southern Style every day for about fourteen years to hang out with his other Southern Style friends before work to "drink coffee and shoot the shit." One thick-mustached man, who protected his identity by giving the false name "Fred," beats out Bob as the longest-standing Southern Style connoisseur, since he has made the restaurant visits part of his "everyday routine" for the last 25 years.
The GC students agree that they enjoy studying the fashion styles of the other customers while trying to identify the restaurant's regulars. Ryan states, "The styles of Southern Style show a slice of society that I don’t get to see often at...