Mom, Andy and I are training for a marathon in October, so over Memorial Day weekend we had to do one of our long runs. That week it was ten miles. Some days I love it. I feel strong, I hit my stride (what they call a “runner’s high”) and could run hours. Other days, it’s tough. I’m slogging it the whole time and willing it to end. Monday was one of those days. I just couldn’t get into it. But I had to keep running, mile after mile. The only thing that kept me going was the thought of the lunch we had planned at Dilly’s Corner in New Hope, Pennsylvania.
Dilly’s is a special place, the stuff that perfect American summers are made of. Cheeseburgers, curly fries, soft serve ice cream, sticky picnic tables, bees, and high school kids taking orders and cleaning tables. Twenty years ago we visited New Hope for the first time to see if it would be a good fit for our family. Our young family stumbled upon Dilly’s, stopped for lunch and positively fell in love. We joke that we moved to New Hope because of Dilly’s. If nothing else, it sealed the deal.
Dilly’s does a roaring trade from March through November. Just a stone’s throw from the Delaware River, the location is ideal, the food is legitimately good and (for better or for worse) it is impossible to go there without running into someone you know—your teacher, your soccer coach, a parishioner or your nemesis from school.
Perhaps most endearing is that nothing has changed in the nearly twenty years since we started going there. Not a thing. Dilly’s menu hasn’t given way to food trends, they haven’t built more seating areas or expanded the operation. Even the graying and sun-faded Dilly’s menu remains unchanged. Sharon and I get the same thing every time. Chicken sandwich, curly fries, Coke and a “baby cone” ice cream.
One of the little charms is that they write down your order with just the first letter of each word. Like a code. So our order would be: CSCFCBC. But we worked that out long ago. Once you’ve finished ordering, you’re handed a playing card. When you order is ready they call out, “Ace of Hearts!” or “Jack of Diamonds!”
This trip to Dilly’s was our first of the season and the fact that we had run ten miles on an empty stomach only added to the anticipation and excitement. We all ordered our usual, found that sticky picnic table and ran into a family that we knew (even though we moved away from that community nearly eight years ago!) It was the perfect kick off to summer.