On any given morning, you can find Luling’s Dean Church at Dot’s Diner enjoying a warm cup of coffee.
Up and out of the house by 5 a.m., Church meets a few friends at the locally-known coffee shop every day, and has done so for nearly 20 years.
“We’ve been coming here since before the place was called Dot’s, when it was still Huddle House,” he said. “And a lot of guys have come and gone over the years, but we still get a pretty good turnout.”
The core of the breakfast club, most of whom are retired, includes Charles Albert, James Estay, Glenn Darensbourg, Tom Case, Harry Zeller, Clyde Jackson, Bob Necaise, Harold Bullock and Church.
“Who you see here today is who is usually here everyday,” Bullock said. “We are the regulars, but occasionally we’ll have a few satellite friends pop in.”
Unintentionally divided, the group naturally splits in two.
The jokesters – Church, Albert, Case, Estay and Darensbourg – can be found chatting in stools nestled by the counter. The more serious men – Zeller, Jackson, Necaise and Bullock – gather at “table No. 10.”
“When this place was Huddle House, the table we’re sitting at right now was table No. 10,” Zeller said. “When it became Dot’s, the table number changed to eight, but we still refer to ourselves as ‘table 10’ and always will.”
When asked what it is that they talk about everyday, all reply with the same response – “to solve the problems of the world.”
“We have a large variety of guys who come here – blue collar, white collar, politicians – so the topic of our conversation is always changing,” added Jackson. “Everyone has had the same problem at one point in time, so we just give each other friendly advice.”
Over the years, the men have collaborated on issues such as fixing trucks and lawn mowers. They’ve helped one another with everyday tasks like moving furniture, and always pass around a joke or two.
“For a couple of hours each morning our wives kick us out of the house and we get to joke around and talk about the things that interest us,” Jackson said. “We discuss things like the economy, interest rates and what’s going on in the parish.”
And occasionally, when life’s duties call and someone doesn’t show up, a “hard time” is what will be waiting upon their return.
“We understand that there will be times when someone won’t show up, but you better believe that we’re going to give them a hard time the next time they come,” Zeller said. “We’re gonna want to know where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing.”
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