Since Fred's has its own website and Facebook page I feel I am not giving away any deep secrets. Mostly I am sharing with you my charming experience.
Before entering, you must leave your grumpies outside. It is a rule. It is the most important rule. When you come in you put your name on a list, grab free coffee and tea, and mingle. Everyone is seated at a giant counter facing the kitchen. Though the restaurant closes at 11, you can hang out as long as you want. If a long line starts to form, they will politely encourage you to move along and let someone else dine. As they can only seat 31 people, and prefer to have most of the seats filled at all times in order to stay in business, it is a tough juggling act.
Remember I said it is a members only dining establishment? Membership costs $20 and comes with an electronic key fob. The door is set to be able to open only between 6 AM and 11 AM. Come at 11:02, and your key fob will not work. Knock on the door and perhaps someone will let you in. There can be a wait list for new members that ranges from a couple of weeks to a few months. When the wait is 90 minutes on a weekend, they don't want to add members. When there are empty seats they do. It is up to the owners' discretion. Maggie was lucky and was granted membership pretty quickly. I suspect the wait is longer in the summer months, but I have nothing to base that on.
The place has the feel of a 50s diner. I was surprised the chairs were not attached to the floor, but they are stools that move (if I return, I will try to get a better picture). The atmosphere is congenial, bordering on lively. Most people know each other (they are members, after all), so the conversations last from the unmarked front door to the lobby to the seating area to their seat and back again into the parking lot.
As with The Landing, Fred's Breakfast Club is located on the Delaware River and faces this view:
If I was writing an advertorial for them, it would probably start with "Take a step back in time to a day when spending time with friends in person was the norm instead of the exception. Take the time to make new friends as you enjoy a made to order meal cooked in front of you."
If I am really lucky, Maggie will invite me back to spend more time getting to know her and her friends.