How did we get here?
From the time Sam began kindergarten, his mother worked in restaurant management. In 1979, Sam’s family moved to Milan where his mom was one of the first managers and the new Shoney’s there. Sam began working there as the ‘lot maintenance person’ until he was old enough to begin bussing tables and washing dishes. He grew up in the business and moved up in the company quickly. He was just twenty years old when he was promoted to store manager in Martin, TN. He later took over the Milan Shoney’s, serving as the General Manager for several years before answering the call to teach.
Sam Rhodes bought the diner in 1996 while attending college at the University of Memphis. The original plan was to use it as a financial supplement as he left a well paying job with Shoney's and was training to be a teacher. If you look closely, you may see the influences of his training and experience at Shoney's in the food and service at Rhodes.
At one time, Medina was a booming hub with multiple restaurants, hotels, etc. Farmers from all of the area brought their crops to the rows of pack sheds downtown. The trains would stop and pick up fruits and vegetables to take to other areas. The diner had a long time role in Medina since the 1950s. It changed owners and names - The Handy House Café, Teagues Grill, Helen's Diner, Tammy's Diner, etc.
In 1996, the original Rhodes Family Diner had seven tables. Since then, under the guidance of Charles King, Sam bought the current Diner building. This expanded the capacity to thirty tables. From eight employees to thirty-eight. Over the years, thanks to the support of this amazing community, the Diner has grown and grown and has become a staple in the community.