FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — If you go to Cindy’s Diner, 230 W. Berry Street, you should know that the cook behind the counter is not Cindy. We’ll get to Cindy in a moment.
The cook is Angie. Angie Rowedda. She owns the place.
She’ll answer to “Cindy” or, if you’ve been around, to “Brat.”
“A bunch of the old time regulars still call me Brat,” Rowedda says.
“Brat” is the nickname she was given by the former owner, John, a short time after she started 24 years ago.
“Especially when I was the server,” says Rowedda, “you were going to get a little sass with your breakfast. Now, you get a little sass from afar with your breakfast since I’m stuck at the grill.”
The sass won’t come from too far. Cindy’s seats only 15 people inside. During COVID, it’s down to seven.
Four employees – a cook, a server and two dishwashers – handle the entire operation. John still handles the bookkeeping.
During the “carryout only” part of the pandemic, Rowedda was the only employee.
“I was in here by myself doing carryout so all of the money was going to the business.”
Cindy’s has recovered to about 66% of revenue while at 50% capacity, which Rowedda counts as a win, especially since the diner is closed on Saturdays, traditionally the busiest day of the week.
She didn’t want to frustrate customers with long wait times.
“I get one big group and I’m done for. I keep asking John how long can we operate at 50% and he doesn’t really have an answer.”
Now would be a good time to mention that Cindy is John’s longtime wife, who was a server before Angie.
Rowedda plans to keep going – pandemic or not – since she has 26 more years of payments on the business.
“If I retire when I pay it off, which who knows how that’ll go, I’ll still end up being about 10 years younger than John.”
A little sass with your bookkeeping?
Angie and Cindy’s Diner have won awards from groups that promote tourism and hospitality at the state and local levels. Kristin Guthrie with Visit Fort Wayne calls it an “integral part of your Fort Wayne experience.”
From convention-goers to visiting celebrities, the out-of-town crowd seems to find its way here.
“The Beach Boys have been here,” Rowedda begins. “Drake Hogestyn, who graduated from Northside has been here. The Charlotte Hornets basketball team was here a couple years ago. Pat McAfee was here when he was doing his comedy tour. Those guys were a handful. The Harlem Globetrotters typically came in here when they’re in town.”
Seems there’s a bit of truth to the sign painted on the back wall: We serve the whole world, 15 at a time.