SHARE

You may never meet Casper the Friendly Ghost, but Hillsdale has its own res­ident para­normal buddy.

Her name is Agnes, and she haunts the Coffee Cup Diner, according to Kevin Murray, who has worked there since 2006.

“She is like Casper, except a girl,” Murray said.

Pai Rin­genberg, the diner’s owner, only laughed in response to Murray’s quips. She was told by the pre­vious owner about Agnes, and Murray said he believes Agnes is real.

“She plays tricks on you. She will throw things off the shelf, splash you with water – all sorts of crazy stuff.” Murray says.

Agnes’ earthly home, a 1928 train car diner, is dec­o­rated with red wain­scoting and yellow walls. The original bar and stools prompt one to rem­i­nisce about “the good old days”.

Rin­genberg said she pur­chased the diner in 1999. For most people, stepping foot into the old diner brings a sense of American nos­talgia. They expect a greasy burger and a milk­shake. Rin­genberg does not dis­ap­point.

“We have comfort food – it’s a home cooked meal,” she said.

Despite this, Ringenberg’s diner has a unique spe­cialty: an entire page of the menu ded­i­cated to Thai food. Rin­genberg said her curry soup is one of their most popular lunch meals.

Music pro­fessor James Holleman said he has been going to the diner for several years now and enjoys Ringenberg’s Thai cooking.

“She used to only have a special every Thursday, but about a year ago she put her [Thai] meals on the menu,” Holleman said.

If you are looking for a warm reception, good food, and an escape from the Hill, Holleman says the diner is the place to go.

“The food is ter­rific. It is a refuge,” Holleman said, “Some days I go in and the waitress will say, ‘Pai is making you some­thing special’ and they come out with a half a duck.”

Mason Stuard said he was intro­duced to the diner by Holleman.

“I’m on my way there right after this interview,” Stuard said. “I’m a big fan of spicy foods. I usually get the yellow chicken curry – it’s some­thing other than steak and potatoes.”

Stuard said the diner has a good atmos­phere that is very “home‑y” and he loves that he can get a “worldly dish” for $6.50.

Rin­genberg said her cus­tomers and coworkers are like her family.

“If nobody does this, who will take care of the cus­tomers?”

She said they develop rela­tion­ships with each of their cus­tomers, including the college stu­dents.

“We watch out for them, check on them because they are not with their fam­ilies,” Rin­genberg said.

Kathy Wildrick, wife and mother of three children, works at the diner.  She said the college stu­dents are good kids.

“They are very respectful, very nice and they never cause a problem,” Wildrick said.

If you are looking for a safe place to meet a friend for meal, Rin­genberg said she has a strict “no-gos­siping” policy. She said she has even fired a few people for talking to others about things they over­heard at the diner.

“It is a small town and a small envi­ronment. You can turn your ear off and not listen,” Rin­genberg said.

“You don’t come here to be eaves­dropped on,” Wildrick added. “And it is common courtesy [not to gossip] and shows respect.”

Rin­genberg made it clear that what happens at the diner stays at the diner.

“She is a good woman and nice boss.  People ask if we are mother and son,” Murray said.

“We have good business. I thank God every day,” Rigenberg said. She con­tinued, laughing, “I really love my job – I do what I like and I like what I do. And I get to yell at people once in awhile.”