ELLSWORTH — If you can’t get to Martha’s Diner on High Street, it may very well come to you.
Dale Bender lives in Maryland but made it a point to stop in the popular breakfast and lunch spot for his 60th and then his 65th birthdays on his annual fall trip to Maine. This October, he turned 70, but ill health kept him home.
“I was up there for my 60th birthday, I went and had my blueberry pancakes,” Bender recalled. “On my 65th birthday, I went back. So, for my 70th birthday, which I’d been planning for two years, for health reasons I couldn’t come up. It was totally out of the question.”
Yet on the morning of his birthday Oct. 6, Bender woke up to Martha’s blueberry pancakes, along with Martha’s Diner T-shirts and mugs.
“It was a total surprise,” Dale said. “I had no idea.”
Dale’s wife, Doreen Bender, was behind the birthday surprise, which Dale shared with his daughter Raven, whose birthday falls on Oct. 3.
“I actually got in contact with the owner of Martha’s Diner,” Doreen said. “Peter [Kataftos] was so accommodating.”
Kataftos mailed Doreen his pancake-muffin mix with instructions, such as how many blueberries to put in, along with the coffee mugs and T-shirts.
Doreen cooked some scrapple to go along with the pancakes.
“It was pretty much the same breakfast I have there,” Dale said.
Kataftos downplayed his role.
“I just sent some muffin mix and a couple of T-shirts,” he said. “His wife told me he was sick and said they weren’t going to make it.”
“It makes me feel good that people think of us even when they’re not in the state at the moment,” he added.
Doreen was more emotional.
“He just put it over the top for me,” she said. “It was unbelievable.”