Roadside America

All-American Diner Tour: Shorty’s Place in Watertown, New York

Located at 1280 Coffeen Street, just off Interstate 81, in Watertown, New York, Shorty’s Place is a great 1950s-themed diner and a favorite of both locals and soldiers from nearby Fort Drum. It’s worth going for the decor alone. The owner must have spent a long time tracking down so much Coca-Cola-themed bric-a-brac. The diner is clean and nostalgia palpable. Seating includes a long counter, tables, and booths. Each booth contains a working jukebox.

Shorty’s food is diverse and above average. Menu choices include charbroiled pork chops, fried scallops, black & blue charbroiled chicken breast, pulled pork BBQ sandwich (Wednesdays), a breakfast lasagna, and more. They even have a limited beer and wine selection and make old-fashioned milkshakes with hard milk flavoring. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served all day, except for soup, which is only served in the afternoon and evening. Prices are reasonable: expect to pay between $10 and $13 per person, including a drink. The most expensive item on the menu is the friend seafood platter for $11.89.

I’ve only eaten breakfast at Shorty’s, and on my latest trip I tried the Fort Myers Scrambler, a breakfast sandwich made of scrambled eggs, mushrooms, onions, ham, and cheddar on ciabatta bread for $6.79. It tasted good, held together nicely, and nearly took up the entire plate. A word of caution, however. It is located on the menu under “Eggs, Eggs, Eggs,” which says all egg items come with toast. Apparently the Fort Myers Scrambler is an exception, because my waitress told me the ciabatta bread counted as toast. That’s quite a stretch–but I understand the economy isn’t that great and they may need to cut back on the extras.

Shorty’s has a 3.8/5 average out of 40 Google reviews. The following are typical positive reviews. Jennifer Stowe Corbett writes, “If you want good food for a good price, then I HIGHLY recommended Shorty’s. Their omelettes (mainly what I get) fill the plate. Staff is very good and makes sure you have everything you need. They have weird hours at times but if you get there early, you won’t be disappointed what so ever.” Jmedley38 wrote, “Great old fashioned diner! Love the juke box and Cola-Cola theme inside, old fashioned counter service, booths or tables.”

Negative reviews frequently highlight the time it takes to get waited on, and I’ve noticed this as well. Service is slow, but I get the impression most people come there to sit back and enjoy their time–not for a quick meal. Rich Quodomine wrote, “I stood there for ten minutes without any acknowledgement from staff.” Norman White agreed, writing, “The last 2 times I have been in there I have gotten terrible service. Waitresses taking a long time to bring drinks and take my order. Also after taking my order my food takes a long time to come out.”

Shorty’s Place is open Monday through Saturday, 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM. In Winter, it is also open on Sundays from 7:00 AM to 2:00 PM. I would recommend stopping in for a visit if you’re ever in the area.


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