Blue Comet Diner
Route 309 - Hazleton, PA
We stopped at Blue Comet for something to eat when we got back to Hazleton after the ballgame and fireworks on the 4th. This is a place I used to go all the time in the 80's and 90's. Grandma, Grandpa, Nana and I used to stop here after Grandma and Nana got out of church on Saturday when I was little.
Back in the 80's, you could get pretty much any dinner off of the menu for $5 or less including scallops, which was one of my favorites. My grandfather usually ordered liver and onions. One of the random memories always think of when I come here is my Nana rooting through her purse to find her bottle of saccharin tablets to use in her coffee. She didn't like Sweet N' Low or Equal, which is what every restaurant had back then, so she carried her own supply with her. They also had a great selection of cakes and pies for dessert. To this day, I haven't found a coconut cream pie that's as good as the one I used to have here when I was a kid.
Before they remodeled, when you went in the front door, you were in a small lobby area that had a pay phone, a coat rack (I think), a Ms. Pac Man machine, and three video poker machines. My grandfather always gave me a quarter or two to play Ms. Pac Man after dinner while he and my grandmother played the poker machines. They were labeled "for entertainment only", but like pretty much every other video poker machine in town, they "paid off", so if my grandparents got to a certain score, they'd go get the cashier who would come out to verify, then give them money right out of the register. That was Hazleton in the last days of Mob City. I never thought it was unusual until I got older and left the area and realized that most places don't have mini casinos in their local restaurants.
These days, the Blue Comet is barely recognizable from the 80's. It's gone through many different owners; one of whom had an addition built onto the building. The outside and inside have been remodeled several times, so at this point, the only part of the restaurant that even looks vaguely similar is the neon sign out front.
The most recent change is that every booth now has a MegaTouch machine. It's fun, and I understand that time marches on, but I really miss the way this place used to feel back in the days when they still had ash trays on every table.