Ozzie’s Diner is in the main terminal and control tower building at Max Westheimer Airport, 1700 Lexington Ave. in Norman. It’s an old-school joint in several respects. Before or after your meal, you may wander around the building and look at World War II- and Korean War-era photos of vintage aircraft and U.S. Navy pilots flirting with University of Oklahoma coeds when the airport was a military base.
The dining room is long and narrow. Orange neon tube lighting and simple booths and tables are straight from another era. Customers include green- or blue-attired military folks, OU students, random visitors and business aviators from as close as Lindsey Street and as far away as the Caribbean.
Ozzie’s serves daily from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., except on Sundays when they close at 3 p.m. Getting a true feel for the place demanded trying breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The volume was at a low conversational roar. You could barely discern a radio was playing 1950s rock ’n’ roll. Counterintuitively, Ozzie’s theme is more Happy Days than Sky King. The place stays busy, but the staff miraculously keeps the wait for a table to a minimum. Fully expect to be addressed as “sugar” or “hon.” Once you’re seated, plates of food zoom straight to your table.
On a recent Sunday morning, our server, Dawn, suggested that we’d be crazy not to go with the $6.39 all-you-can-eat breakfast. Choose from eggs any style, bacon, ham, sausage, grits, oatmeal, toast, biscuits, gravy, pancakes, home fries and hash browns. Dawn seemed sincerely disappointed with my puny appetite of only two plates.
Lunch was a top-notch patty melt ($4.99). Inexplicably, proper preparation of this simple sandwich eludes many places. Ozzie’s rye bread was grilled to crisp perfection, and the beef patty was juicy with just enough melted Swiss cheese and buttery grilled onions.
The menu also includes salads, burgers, chicken sandwiches and a dozen side dishes such as pinto beans and okra.
At dinnertime, the dining room was not as frenetic as during breakfast. Between tables, our comet of a server Stephanie was singing along to Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire,” and you could actually hear the music. At $11.99, a small New York strip steak with jumbo fried shrimp and three sides is the menu’s most expensive plate. Wednesday’s special is all-you-can-eat fried chicken ($5.95), and Friday brings in savvy regular patrons for all-you-can-eat fried catfish, butterfly shrimp and chicken fingers ($8.95).
“We make everything, including pies, from scratch,” said Ozzie’s manager Mart Derek. “We take a lot of pride in what we do.”
That pride is evident in every plate that flies from the kitchen.