“Oh, Lee!”: A Call for Dinner

The feeling of home manifests itself in multiple ways, from the nostalgic fragrance of a mother’s kitchen, to a grassy knoll bathed in sunshine at a childhood park, or even a stroll down the pavement of a familiar avenue.

With this in mind, imagine sinking your teeth into a hefty burger, and tasting the warm, salty goodness of fresh-cut fries and fry sauce. You look out the window to see the local middle school and neighboring homes with green grass sprouting at each foundation, with the gas station, park, barbershop and post office just a stone’s throw away. Placed at the center of the small but mighty Sugar City, Idaho, Ole’s Diner provides this feeling of home in the form of a tucked-away mom and-pop shop for burgers, fries and shakes. As a frequent Sugar City visitor, I can attest to this experience which seldom lends itself to the modern consumer. If you’re in the area, make sure to make a stop at Ole’s for a quick bite to eat.

Among the typical burger variations at Ole’s, they offer the Hickory Bacon cheeseburger, Mushroom Swiss burger, an array of chicken, steak, BLT and fish sandwiches and the locally coined “Digger Dog.” If you’re feeling ambitious, go for the formidable specialty “Triple Bypass”—fit with three patties, two kinds of cheese, ham, bacon and a fried egg. Of course, you cannot forget to order their delicious fresh-cut fries or onion rings, and rich shakes ranging from classic chocolate to the crowd-pleasing huckleberry.

Long before they opened in 2011, owners Bryan, Nicole and Layne Harris’ father, Harold, felt that Sugar City was in need of a diner. This family affair filled that need. Their name, commonly mistaken as “Olé’s,” comes from the nickname Harold acquired as a child being called to dinner by his middle name: “Oh, Lee!” The name stuck, and adds yet another personal touch to the diner. Other than the taste of their mouth-watering, home-style food, simply walking into Ole’s makes it hard to ignore the genuine care and authenticity put into creating it. Photos of historical Sugar City sites and people, a vintage menu and classic Pepsi memorabilia mark the distinctive blue and white accented walls—colors pointedly chosen to brandish the family’s school pride.

Ole’s ensures its integral part of the town through their support of local sports teams, which involves young people in their public outreach and preserves the legacy of the Harris Sugar-Salem graduates. Gleaming trophies and noble “Digger” jerseys (for the Sugar-Salem sugar beet “Diggers”) are tacked alongside other treasures, making this the quintessential location for local food and identity.

Sharing family-favorite recipes and promoting small-town pride makes Ole’s a go-to destination for those in search of an intimate and tasty lunch spot.

Katie Walker is from Tucson, Arizona, and a student at BYU Idaho studying Visual Communication and Media Writing. She loves yoga and music, and playing violin for the symphony orchestra at the college. She can be reached by email at littlekwalker@gmail.com