Turning into a quiet corner away from the A13, Fat Boys’ Diner sits neatly tucked in the middle of a serene, artistic corner known as Trinity Buoy Wharf in Docklands.
In all its leather-seated, metal-capped and primary colour-paletted glory, the American diner has been as much a staple of American culture as the greasy spoon is to Britain’s. It feels as if I’m on the set of When Harry Met Sally as I wait for my bacon and egg sandwich, which director Tom Lovett is cheerily preparing while whistling a tune.
“This is an authentic 1950s diner which was built in America and shipped to the UK in the 80s,” Lovett says while expertly flipping a burger bun. “There were five of them – three were scrapped, one was moved outside of London and this is the only one left.
“It’s nice that this place is in Trinity Buoy Wharf in the Docklands where it is 70 per cent creative. We do have solid regulars; most people travel back here just for the unique atmosphere and experience of eating in a place where it’s friendly.”
Born in the UK before spending his teenage years in the States and moving back at the age of 17, Lovett has been in the hospitality scene for a long time – he began his journey at a pizza place at the age of 13. Upon returning, he started freelancing in film before going back to his true calling.
“I’ve learnt that you can’t replicate the sense of community that food places can foster,” Lovett says. “That’s why I try to stock locally sourced stuff as much as possible. My meat is sourced from a butcher in Hackney; the beers are from local breweries like 40FT and Husk Brewery.
“It’s so local to the point that we’ve got a guy who works round the corner to do our branding, and a friend of ours to manage our social media. We’ve also got our soft drinks from Dalston Cola – it’s about building a personal relationship with people and I hope that Fat Boys’ channels that attitude.”
Sure enough, every single person from the lunch hour crowd that suddenly streams into the diner greets Lovett warmly. It quickly turns into a big social space, where people sit and chat with each other – even without knowing any names. I ask Lovett about his future plans for the diner.
“We’re thinking of doing more of our bistro pop-ups in Hackney and opening a cocktail bar here at the end of April,” he replies while making an eggs benedict, an impromptu item off the menu. “We’re getting a pop-up cinema outside this diner, just like America in the 80s. A guy we know who works in film will be bringing up his old American convertibles for that.”
As I leave the diner with a full stomach, a friendly hug and a complimentary coffee, I wonder what the drive-in cinema at Fat Boys’ will be like. I could possibly meet my Harry there; who knows.
Bacon and Sausage Sandwich: £2.50
Burgers from £5 to £7.50
Breakfasts: £5 to £8
Open Daily, seven days a week
Monday, Tuesday and Sunday: 9am – 5pm
Wednesday to Saturday: 9am – 7pm
For more information on Fat Boys’ Diner, visit: http://www.fatboysdiner.co.uk/