The Poky Dot
This quirky diner in Fairmont takes you back to a time when food was just plain fun.
Great food, great tunes, and cheerful service—what better way to beat the winter doldrums? At The Poky Dot diner in Fairmont, you’ll be smiling from the moment you pull into the parking lot and see the bright red iconic British telephone booth and colorful polka dot guardrails.
From chair-backs made of spoons and pink slippers hanging on the wall to the red and yellow tables and working jukebox, owner Dee Atkinson says The Poky Dot’s whimsical décor is just part of her mission to make customers happy. But don’t think all that happy-go-luckiness means she isn’t serious about food. An old-fashioned milkshake machine takes you back to a simpler time while the original ticket turnstile in the kitchen window conjures up images of a spatula-wielding short-order cook ringing the bell and proclaiming a hearty, “Order up!”
But ambiance alone is not why people have been driving from miles away since The Poky Dot became a Fairmont landmark in the 1950s. The diner also offers an extensive menu. Try “The Poky Burger” with all the fixings or one of the popular wraps that feature a selection of steak, chicken, ham, turkey, or veggies. Most die-hard diner fans know that the true testament of a good diner lies in hot open-faced sandwiches. And at The Poky Dot they won’t be disappointed. Order the Hot Roast Beef sandwich, and you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in diner Nirvana after your first bite.
In July 2010, the diner’s “He-Man Breakfast” was featured in Food Network Magazine. This colossal dish offers up four eggs, four pancakes, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, ham, fried potatoes, and toast—all on top of a trash can lid. (It’s clean, of course!) “It fills the entire lid,” says manager Jane Miller. “We have had people come in from all over the country to try it. We also have a little competition with the He-Man Breakfast—if you can eat it all in under 60 minutes, you get a free T-shirt.” Jane says approximately 50 people have won a free shirt, but the most memorable victory was when a 16-year-old local ate the entire dish in less than a half-hour.
The diner serves breakfast all day, but a visit would not be complete without indulging in one of the disproportionately large desserts. Dee says a lot of people visit The Poky Dot for that purpose. One look at the cooler and you’ll see why—it’s bursting with tempting confections like Blackberry Cobbler, Gwen’s Yummy Cheesecakes, Oreo Cookie Cake, and Peanut Butter Pie. The Poky Dot has more than 80 kinds of cheesecake and Dee says the desserts seem to grow a little every year. Jane says one of the most popular desserts is the banana split, a dish that uses one banana with 72 ounces of ice cream. “Usually when someone orders a banana split everyone else wants to get one. It’s funny because the size of our banana split actually started as a joke,” Jane says.
With big portions, great presentation, and an upbeat staff, it is no wonder The Poky Dot has its fair share of regulars. “I’d say we have hundreds,” Jane says. “We have some people who come in every Saturday for breakfast. If they don’t show up, we wonder where they are.” One couple who’s there every day? Marvin and Martha—dolls made by artist Laura Gribble who’ve been in the diner for years. “Marvin and Martha have really become a symbol of The Poky Dot over the years. I’ve seen people start to talk to them only to look over and realize they aren’t real,” Dee says.
The next time you’re out for a Sunday drive, pop off of Interstate 79’s downtown Fairmont exit. Marvin and Martha will soon become your best friends.
The diner is open Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–10 p.m., and weekends, 7 a.m.–midnight.
The Poky Dot, 1111 Fairmont Avenue, Fairmont, WV 26554; 304.366.3271