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Matt Von Pinnon, Published August 18 2012

Von Pinnon: Tom Hanks and his ilk ought to stay on tarmac

Thanks a lot, Tom Hanks.

Now that the A-list actor and his family dropped in on TNT’s Diner in West Fargo on Friday morning, the place will never be the same.

By Saturday, there were already new faces checking out the place, wondering where Hanks and gang sat, asking what they ate, what they said.

In this new world of instant information, nothing worth keeping a secret stays a secret.

It won’t be long until the place has a “Tom Hanks Biscuits and Gravy Plate” or a “Forrest Gump Shrimp Platter.”

It might cost extra to sit where the “Saving Private Ryan” star briefly warmed the booth vinyl.

And I wouldn’t blame namesake owners Tim ’N’ Tammy Hagensen for making some hay off people’s newfound awareness of their out-of-the-way gem of an eatery.

All I ask is that Tim and Tammy remember their roots, the little people whose word-of-mouth recommendations about their fine food and friendly service eventually reached the likes of Hollywood’s powerful elite.

Because it wasn’t all that long ago, Tim and Tammy, that fellow Forum writers Chuck Klosterman, Tammy Swift and I more days than not haunted your door for lunch and ordered the hot turkey dinner and Taste O’ Pie.

We knew you two when you were just starting out, your diner nearly hidden to the masses in a nondescript north Fargo strip mall.

For us, your place was the best-kept secret in town: great home cooking, friendly staff, reasonably priced fare and a complimentary piece of homemade pie to boot.

We told a few well-placed people – just enough to keep the cash register ringing – but swore them to secrecy for selfish reasons.

It was all well and good until Chuck blew it by writing a review about the place (to this day, his worst regret).

Before long, you were in a much larger place at the Moorhead Center Mall. It didn’t suit your style, or that of your clients.

When the former Jiggs spot opened up in West Fargo, the move made sense to those of us who watched you grow.

And grow you have, even though locals have done a pretty good job keeping you for themselves.

But the secret’s out now. Tom Hanks blew the lid off.

I was heartened to learn Saturday that Tim thought Chuck was among the biggest celebrities to grace his place before Hanks.

Chuck is a pretty big deal these days, what with being a regular columnist for the New York Times Sunday magazine and writing all those best-selling books.

But even Chuck would admit he’s not in the same league as Hanks.

So, Tom, do us a favor and don’t tell your friends about the biscuits and gravy at TNT. We don’t need a bunch of big shots crowding out the locals who’ve worked hard for years to keep the place a relative secret.

Next time you land your jet here, we’ll bring the biscuits and gravy to you.


Von Pinnon is editor of The Forum. Reach him at (701) 241-5579.