The Unofficial Diner of AirVenture

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Many of the attendees camping at AirVenture are challenged for ground transportation—a plight that can severely restrict gastronomic options for the duration of the stay. Luckily, our intrepid campers have Friar Tuck’s to satisfy the basic human need for adult beverages and pretty good burgers. However, the breakfast crowd won the lottery with Oshkosh icon La Sure’s Bakery and Restaurant.

The basic requirements for a good breakfast diner are:

  1. Good HOT coffee;
  2. Bacon and Eggs on the Menu; and
  3. A waitress who calls you Sweetie, Honey or Sugar.

For the folks at La Sure’s, check, check and double check. They call it a Bakery and Restaurant, mostly because Tom and Shirley Heisler started out in 1972 as a bakery and then, several years later, added tables and started serving breakfast and lunch. Although the baked goods are out of this world, the establishment is truly a diner. The eggs are cooked to order, the bacon is crisp, the flap jacks are fluffy and the sausage is exceptional. As a side note, Wisconsinites take their beer, cheese and sausage very seriously.

But it is more than the good food that makes the campers line up every morning, waiting for a coveted table. It’s the people. Waitress Penny Harlan has been the star of the show for 28 years. The other wait staff have been there for similar periods. That is some turnover. Many people come up to her each year and tell her that it is not really Oshkosh until they hear her call them Honey over coffee. She is the sweet big sister we all really wish we had.

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Equally as memorable was Co-Owner Tom Heisler, whose job was to manage the waiting line each morning, often placing singles at incomplete tables, so people could get to know each other. Who would think that a diner in Oshkosh, Wisconsin would be so popular that they needed a maitre d’? Sadly, Tom passed away last year and his wife, Shirley, now mans the door. Shirley remembers all of the past air shows (the locals just call it EAA) fondly. Her best memory, however, was when Cliff Robertson came in and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He always had a way with women.

So, if you roll out of your sleeping bag at 6:00 a.m. (7:00 a.m. on Sundays) and you have a hankering for hot coffee and a sweet wisecracking waitress to serve it to you, all you have to do is follow the crowd and line up in front of La Sure’s.

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