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John Lamb, Published August 18 2012

Tom Hanks leaves stamp of approval at West Fargo diner

WEST FARGO – The breakfast and lunch rush is done for the week at TNT’s Diner in West Fargo, but owners Tim and Tammy Hagensen are still buzzing from a special guest on Friday morning.

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his family dropped in for an eye-opener during a Fargo stop-over early Friday, but the Hagensens still haven’t come down.

“It’s been really fun. Everyone is excited,” said Tammy on Saturday afternoon. “Everyone asks, ‘Where did they sit?’ ‘What did they eat?’ ”

It was the diner’s popular biscuits and gravy that attracted the actor best known for starring in “Forrest Gump,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “Philadelphia,” “The Green Mile,” “Sleepless in Seattle” and “You’ve Got Mail.”

Hanks and his family were directed to the eatery by employees at the Fargo Jet Center, where the family had a scheduled stop.

The Hagensens said the Jet Center often sends pilots over to the eatery at 405 Main Ave. W., but this was the biggest celebrity they’ve ever hosted.

Hanks and his family showed up at TNT around 4 a.m.

The family sat in a booth along the south wall of the restaurant, under a picture of Humphrey Bogart.

Hanks, his wife, actress Rita Wilson, and sons, Chet and Truman, chatted with Tim and Tammy and their 8-year-old son, Tyler, over breakfast.

“That was the coolest part,” Tim said, noting how the family was just like any other that comes to the restaurant.

“I don’t think he is acting that much,” Tim said of the 56-year-old star, noting how Hanks seems like one of his everyman characters. “He is who he is.”

Still, the celebrity visit is creating a stir amongst regulars. Tammy said Saturday was a little busier than the standard summer Saturday and she hasn’t had a chance to catch up with all of the calls and emails she’s received from friends who ask if they’ll set up a display about the visit.

“Not unless he sends me some stuff,” Tammy said with a laugh.

Hanks did sign a Fargo Jet Center T-shirt that now hangs behind the front counter.

“Nice eggs/biscuits & gravy!” Hanks wrote.

Hanks’ wife, actress Rita Wilson, signed it, “God bless you, Tyler, keep creative.”

Tyler gave the actor a cartoon he drew on the napkin. Hanks jokingly asked if the youngster knew how to draw Woody, the “Toy Story” character Hanks gives voice to. Tyler said he didn’t, but that didn’t seem to bother the star, as he posed for a picture with the young artist.

One of the sons taught the youngster the Hanks company handshake and gave him the nickname “Ice Cold,” a reference to all of the Coca-Cola material on display in the restaurant.

“The whole family was real warm,” Tammy said.

A sign above the kitchen window reads “Meals and memories are made here.” On Friday morning, that’s just what happened.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533