MASSILLON – More than three hours had passed since I left my home in Springfield Township and drove to Chloe’s Diner in Massillon.
Sitting in my car after dinner, the sky darkened as 8 p.m. approached. My phone rang with a call from my wife and daughter. They were amazed that I hadn’t left yet.
Chloe’s Diner was to blame, I explained somewhat sheepishly.
I like history. Chloe has it in abundance. I love classic cars and vintage Americana. Chloé is also imbued with it. And I love hamburgers, hot dogs and milkshakes. The restaurant has them covered as well.
The museum aesthetic had kept me a willing hostage at Chloe’s Diner, 112 First St. NE. And I couldn’t get enough exploring, taking photos and recording videos inside Rohr’s sprawling former auto repair garage.
That’s the charm and beauty of Chloe’s – vintage cars, neon signs and other styles are as much a part of the dining experience as the food.
And that’s not a bad thing either. Hamburgers, chili cheese dogs and onion rings are common. But Chloé is a cathedral of yesteryear and well worth a visit.
Dinner with Dan
Joining good friend and retired Canton Repository entertainment writer Dan Kane for dinner was long overdue. The restaurant had been on my list since it opened in July.
Chloe’s exterior is sleek and polished. Near the sidewalk is an old-fashioned sign with flashing lights welcoming customers.
None of this prepares you for the show inside. We first walked through a small hall. The burgers sizzled on the dish and the aroma of grilled onions wafted through. A jukebox played classic rock music. A sign of Vernor shone. Memorabilia from Coca-Cola were on display. A small kitchen was visible behind a metal counter where customers could sit on a stool.
A few steps later, I entered the gigantic dining room that serves as a car showroom, where vintage motorcycles are suspended high in the rafters.
Looking at Dan, I could tell he was impressed, even upset. After 39 years of writing about music, art, culture and restaurants, my former colleague has seen it all, and even admired the meticulous curation and scope of Chloe’s.
Before taking our seats, we eagerly checked out the plethora of cars, motorbikes, scooters, bicycles, soapbox derby cars and a junior dragster.
Vehicles include a 1952 Mercedes-Benz, a 1957 silver Thunderbird, a white 1966 Ford Mustang, a 1963 Chevrolet Impala, a 1966 Volkswagen bus, a red 1957 Chevy convertible, a black 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle and a 1950s one-door BMW Isetta. Each vehicle was pristine and shiny.
The cars share the floor with vintage gas pumps and a backdrop of neon signs, the star being an illuminated Betty Boop.
Jeff Doll oversees Chloe’s, but he said it’s owned by his teenage daughter, after whom the restaurant is named. Seth Harrison is the manager.
Doll also renovated other downtown buildings with an eye for hardwood floors, exposed brick and tin ceilings. “I just like doing it,” he said.
Doll owns Jeff’s Motorcars in Stark County. His wife, Sandy, owns and operates the upscale restaurant Social at the Stone House in downtown Massillon.
“You sit there and watch these old people come in, and they’re just in awe of these cars,” said Jeff Doll, who owned a gas station in Massillon in the 1980s. it almost looks like a tear in their eyes…and they can go there with their grandkids – grandkids and grandpa, they love it.”
After having humorously photographed Dan with a statue of Elvis, we settled into a stand that allowed us to have a grand view of the surroundings.
Dan ordered a double cheeseburger slider ($4.39) and a root beer float ($3.99). I went with the quarter pound all beef chili dog ($6.75, adding onions is an extra $1) and a strawberry milkshake ($4.99). We shared onion rings ($5.25)
Our server, Abbyrae Thomas, was fun, friendly and helpful in explaining the menu. Jostling and covering the long journey between the kitchen and the tables, Thomas also mixed milkshakes, topping them with squirts of whipped cream.
Marcus Craig was chatty and courteous as he worked on the griddle. He also selected the tracks – Journey, Van Halen, Joe Walsh, Muddy Waters, George Thorogood, the Sex Pistols. Although the music isn’t from the 50s sock hop era, it was an inspired mix and matched the vibrant visuals.
Chili cheese dog is tasty but messy
When the food arrived Dan and I were disappointed with the size of the double slider.
Doll said he had issues, but a few sliders are comparable in quantity and price to a “bar burger,” he noted.
I liked the slider and the meat was nicely charred around the edges, but the cheese was barely noticeable. Could have been an oversight as the other cheeseburgers I spotted had plenty of them. Topping the slider were pickles, caramelized onions, ketchup and mustard on a homemade Amish country bun that was soft, fresh and perfectly suited to the beef.
Next time I would order two or three singles – $2.79 each or $3.19 with cheese.
Dan and I agreed that the chili cheese dog was the highlight of our meals. Doll said it was meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. Using silverware, however, didn’t occur to me and I found it excessively messy. Several towels were needed for cleaning.
“It was actually on purpose,” Doll said, noting that the chili sauce contains ground beef and beans.
Most enjoyable was the split sausage and its freshly grilled taste; it was a price of a chili dog, but a sturdier bun would have been preferred.
The onion rings were crispy and nice, but not of the freshly hand breaded variety.
The milkshake was memorable. Served in a stainless steel mug, it was pleasantly sweet and easy to sip. A splash of condensed milk gave it an extra boost.
Doll said the hand-spun shakes were popular. The other flavors are Vanilla, Chocolate and Oreo.
Breakfast is popular
Doll said it still has the same staff Chloe opened with last summer. The food supply has been problematic, he said. The evolution of the products drew some grumbling, but Doll said it was out of her control due to supply chain issues resulting from the pandemic.
Wait times can be longer when it’s busy, he said. The size of the grill, however, limits cooking volume, Doll explained.
“I never imagined we would be this busy,” he said. “There are always growing pains; you can’t please everyone, but you try to.”
Certainly, while the food was satisfactory overall, it didn’t overshadow the atmosphere.
Chicken fillets, grilled cheese, ham and cheese sandwiches, fries, tater tots and chili are also offered. Doll highly recommended the spread ($6.25). Rotating daily specials include meatball subs and steak sandwiches.
Breakfast is popular, he says. Customers love the country fried steak ($7.25 with two eggs and toast) and the sausage sauce and cookies ($6.75).
Hours are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
Contact Ed at 330-580-8315 and [email protected]