Harrison County

Mystery solved: Hidden Gulfport diner's past revealed

MISS DEPT OF ARCHIVES & HISTORYFalk's Waffle Shop was a popular diner back in the day in downtown Gulfport. This photograph is part of the Cooper Postcard Collection maintained by the Mississippi Department of Archives & History. Note the neon Barq's Root Beer sign.
MISS DEPT OF ARCHIVES & HISTORYFalk's Waffle Shop was a popular diner back in the day in downtown Gulfport. This photograph is part of the Cooper Postcard Collection maintained by the Mississippi Department of Archives & History. Note the neon Barq's Root Beer sign.

GULFPORT -- A Sun Herald reader has solved the mystery of what diner Shawn Montella found when he tore into the walls of an old building downtown where Coast Roast Coffee & Tea will open by October.

Falk's Waffle Shop was hidden behind the walls.

William Miller of Gulfport said he and his sister, Carolyn Miller Fayard, ate many a tasty hamburger there as children. Fayard found an old photo of Falk's that Miller forwarded to the newspaper.

The Millers' father worked at a feed store just north of the railroad tracks and across the street from Falk's on U.S. 49. Miller's father eventually bought the store with a partner, changing the name to Wayne Farm & Garden Supply Co., or Wayne Feed Store, as the locals called it.

Wayne Feed had a state-certified chicken hatchery, where 10,000 chicks a month were hatched.

"My sister and I used to help my dad at night and on weekends with feeding and watering these chicks and maintaining the large incubators," Miller wrote in an email. "Dad worked many long hours at that store through the years to support our family. Many times, we would pick up burgers or go eat a meal at Mr. Falk's diner when working with dad at the feed store."

The diner offered curb service. It also had an eye-catching neon sign advertising Barq's Root Beer, bottled in Biloxi and once sold exclusively on the Coast.

Montella still shakes his head over discovering the diner a few weeks ago. He and his wife own Bankhouse Coffee in Long Beach, and also have a wholesale coffee business called Coast Roast. With a partner, Montella has opened two Coast Roast Coffee & Tea shops in Louisiana. Now Coast Roast is coming to Gulfport.

The old building will look nothing like the squat structure Montella tore into. He's expanding the footprint for seating and adding lots of windows to let in light.

The building has been added onto over the years, which is how the diner got covered up. It was also home at one time to Pud's Liquor Store.

Falk's offered curb service, but Miller liked to sit inside.

"The diner had several red-covered chrome stools to sit at the counter," he said. "As kids we used to love to spin the seat tops around. Fun times and good memories."

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