There’s a certain freedom to a roadtrip that has no defined terminus. After half-a-lifetime of vacation time, school schedules, the added costs of travel, for the next year-plus, we can move as we please, where we please, when we please. If planned right, the only added cost of seeing new places is the gas it takes to get there, and the only limitation on our time is our own tolerance for the road.
Do the math: previously when we traveled, the cost of a hotel is extra, the cost of renting a car is extra, the plane ticket is extra. Now, if we’re staying in a hotel between cities where we’ve rented – the hotel ‘rent’ simply replaces the ‘apartment rent’ on the ledge, rather than doubles it.
So, when we hear stories about places like Ashland, Kentucky, we’re free to travel there.
A city previously famous for producing a number of American cultural icons, including Billy Ray Cyrus (Mylie’s dad), Wynonna Judd, Ashley Judd, Chuck Woolery, 2006 National League Cy-Young Award winner Brandon Webb, former CIA Director Gina Haspel, and now, local restaurateur Taj Sadar.
If you haven’t heard this story yet, here are the Cliff’s notes:
- Off duty employee (we’ll call him, “the racist”) of a private ambulance company eats at a restaurant in rural Ashland, Kentucky called The King’s Diner, owned by a man of Indian-American ancestry.
- Afterward, he leaves a review on Facebook that he “reluctantly entered to order meatloaf special and was greeted by a tribe from India. I’m ashamed that I probably just funded Al-Qaeda.”
- Ashland, Kentucky, with its population that is 95.84% white, responds by turning out in droves to the King’s Diner, doubling their business, and showing Mr. Taj Sadar that the behavior of “the racist,” while unfortunately more normalized in 2018 than it has been in decades, is not, in fact normal.
- The racist was fired from his job, and overnight, the locals flooded to the King’s Diner to support their fellow Kentuckian, who had lived there since 2010. Taj Sadar says he’s forgiven the man who wrote hateful things about him and his restaurant.
So, check it. This place is a fusion of classic American diner and Indian restaurant.
If that wasn’t enough to catch our attention, the outpouring of support from the people of Ashland, Kentucky bookmarks it as a special place, that we need to see.
Ashland, a town of about 21,000 people, is a hub of Northeastern Kentucky, the center of an even more rural region. With an economy that straddles on one end a massive medical complex and on the other a blue-collar steel industry, the King’s Diner is a perfect fit for Ashland, Kentucky.
Imagine, a world where meatloaf and mashed potatoes:
Can live harmoniously on the service line alongside butter chicken and paneer:
Topped off with whatever heavenly monstrosity this is:
If meatloaf and curry can coexist, why can’t the rest of us? And in that sense, the King’s Diner in Ashland, Kentucky is a little taste of the American I think we’d all like to see.
Ashland, Kentucky is on the most-direct route from Columbus, Ohio to Asheville, North Carolina, meaning that to stop in to the King’s Diner in January, we won’t even have to make a detour. All we’ll have to do is…Pull Over Here.