Pull aside the wooden sliding door to enter the historic Casey's Diner and not two feet in front of you, you're welcomed by a row of regulars perched on their bar stools, the scent of juicy burgers and dogs, and the friendly face of Pat Casey.
And you can bet that your experience at Casey's is not much different from how it was for your ancestors years ago, except that there might have been a different Casey family member behind the counter.
Since Pat's great-grandfather, Fred Casey, founded it in 1890, the diner has been a staple of the Natick experience.
"The diner had four stools and was drawn by a horse to the Natick Common each day," said Pat, whose father, Fred, now owns the business. Dedicated to keeping Natick residents full and happy, Fred Sr. kept the doors open from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. everyday, only closing on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"In those days, Natick was a factory town and he fed the workers until the last trolley went back to Boston at 3 in the morning," said Pat, who has worked at Casey's since 1984. Then, the pie, coffee and dogs cost only a nickel.
While it will cost you more than a nickel to fill your belly today, the prices are more than reasonable and the menu stays true to its roots, with a few extra short order items.
In 1922, the family sold their original diner car and bought the 10-stool lunch car that is so familiar to locals today. It drew in the crowds on Washington Street until 1976 when the family moved it to its current hot spot, where business is still booming both in the dining room and at the walk-up window.
And it does not look like Casey's Diner is going to leave the family anytime soon. Even after going to college and spending eight years in the Army National Guard, Pat could not stay away.
"I really find it hard to imagine doing something else," said Pat, who lives with his wife Lynn and two children in Ashland. "Much of mine and my wife's families live in Natick. We also both spent most of our lives living in Natick as well. The feeling of community between my family, my coworkers and my customers is something I think we all treasure. Every job and every family have their own challenges and when you combine both they can magnify but I feel like my father and I have achieved a nice balance with the diner."