It’s undeniably fun to visit a new restaurant (or bakery), but nothing beats cozying up in a familiar booth and ordering “the usual.” In 2013, we interviewed a few neighbors about the dining establishments they frequent. A couple of the eateries have closed since our piece was published — Kel’s Kitchen and Balls Hamburgers —but what better way to honor their legacy than to take a walk down memory lane?

Here’s an excerpt:

Ken Nelson started eating at Balls Hamburgers when his daughter was 3. She’s now 30.

The original Snider Plaza location “was kind of a hangout for little kids because they had a couple of pinball machines,” Nelson says.

When his daughter played elementary and junior high soccer, and later joined the drill team, Balls was the place to celebrate and hold award ceremonies.

“We’d put a lot of tables together and have a banquet,” Nelson says.

The Snider Plaza location has closed, but Nelson still eats at the Northwest Highway-Midway location two or three times a week. He heads there after working out at the Town North YMCA, usually when the lunch rush has died down.

Sometimes Nelson’s wife joins him. They have a special drink — a Diet Coke with a splash of Dr Pepper. They like Diet Dr Pepper, but the soda fountain has a limited number of options, and the rare Mello Yello beats out the more mainstream Diet Dr Pepper.

The staff knows their preferred drink; Nelson and his wife don’t have to ask for it. He wondered whether it might be a common request.

“I said, ‘Oh, are there a lot of us people like that?’ And they said, ‘No.’ ”

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