Michael Greene (left) delivers fried pork chops to the cafeteria line at Matthews Cafeteria. His father, owner Charles Greene, is behind him.

Food Network features Tucker's Matthews Cafeteria

Anyone who watches Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" knows a restaurant's gotta be pretty special to end up on the show dedicated to the country's greasiest of pits.

You won't find deep-fried Philly cheesesteaks or artery-choking chili at Matthews Cafeteria, a mom-and-pop joint that has been a fixture on Main Street in downtown Tucker since the Eisenhowers lived in the White House.

Still, the folks at Food Network saw fit to spend two days there back in February taping the show, whose title is simplified to "Triple D" by host Guy Fieri. The 10-minute segment — starring, among other culinary treats, the cafeteria's famous fried chicken and mouth-watering mac 'n' cheese — aired Monday night. It was the first time the show had featured a cafeteria, according to the Matthews family.

"We're not a diner. We're not a drive-in. And I hope we're not a dive," joked Alice (Matthews) Greene, whose father opened Matthews Cafeteria in 1955. "But we'll take the attention."

Since day one, when Greene was in the eighth grade, "there's been people here, and lots of 'em," she said last week.

Indeed, on a recent lunch hour a mix of retirees, business people and young professionals ate at the cafeteria.

Ask any of them why they were willing to wait in a line 25 folks deep and you got the same answer.

"The food! What else?" said Tarri Johnson, a 20-something businesswoman who drove from Stone Mountain for turkey and dressing. "And the atmosphere is nice. It's like a family."

That's because it is. As Fieri no doubt pointed out on the show, Adam Matthews opened his namesake restaurant in 1955 (no one remembers the exact date) in a one-room building that once sold coal. Through the years, it expanded to three large attached rooms, with seating for nearly 200. Today, Alice Greene and her husband, Charles "Bubba" Greene, run the business affairs along with their son, Michael, 36, who is featured in the show. (Adam Matthews died in 1984).

"It was a lot of work, but fun work," the younger Greene said as he oversaw a crew of workers piling pork chops and mashed potatoes on the plates of wide-eyed diners.

Everything on the daily changing menu — from biscuits and gravy in the morning, to meatloaf and greens at lunch and dinner and a host of pies and cakes for dessert — is made from scratch. No preservatives. Nothing frozen.

"This is good comfort food," Alice Greene said. "We eat it, too, so we want it to be good."

The most interesting (and confusing) part of the two-day shoot for patrons was having the same menu two days in a row. (Producers wanted it to appear as though the segment was taped in one day).

"People thought, 'My word, has she had a stroke?'" Alice Greene said of serving fried chicken on Tuesday and Wednesday. "They thought I had lost my mind. But it was worth it."

Michael Greene said Food Network officials told him that restaurants featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" see a 30 percent increase in business, not that the cafeteria needs the accolades or more customers.

"Just look at the line. People know good food when they see it," said Fred Wages, 79, a retired General Motors worker who ate at Matthews the day it opened and has been there nearly every day since. "I'll keep going for as long as I live."

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