HOMEWOOD, Ala. (WIAT) – In the heart of Homewood lies a restaurant that encompasses the very best qualities of southern living: food, family and football.
“Well my dad was an All-American at Alabama and an Alabama Hall of Famer and All-SEC,” said Wayne Salem, owner of Salem’s Diner.
The Salem family has been serving home-style favorites since 1950 when former Crimson Tide defensive star Ed Salem opened his first drive-in.
“My dad started, when he got his bonus money with the Redskins, a restaurant and my grandmother and my uncle ran it while my dad played ball to pay for it,” said Salem.
For more than 30 years now, Wayne Salem has carried the family tradition with his own popular hangout, Salem’s Diner, frequented by intrigued visitors and loyal regulars like much of Samford athletic’s coaching staff.
“Wayne is a great guy, we’ve got a lot of coaches that come in, a lot of great people. Awesome place to eat breakfast,” said Samford football coach Chris Hatcher.
“I’ve been in here for a long time, I live close by, it’s a true neighborhood place, same guys every morning, just a good way to start the day,” said Samford baseball coach Casey Dunn.
And for nearly a decade, Salem’s Diner is exactly how longtime SEC commissioner Mike Slive started his day.
“He picked up a coffee and started walking around, just filling up coffee cups out of nowhere, and I went, ‘this is my guy,'” said Salem.
Before his passing in 2018, Slive spent his mornings at Salem’s, building friendships over great food.
“He would hold all of his meetings right here, the memories I have for him, he’s been so good to the place, I couldn’t afford that kind of publicity,” said Salem.
“I’d come in here with commissoner Slive and I had heard all these scaries stories about him, from caoches in the SEC about how intimidating he was, that was never my expierence. He was just a great, loving man, we talked a lot about books and I will always cherish that,” said Samford soccer coach Todd Yelton.
Slive, along with many of the south’s top sports figures, are honored at Salem’s Diner.. rich in recipes, richer in tradition.
“I’ll tell you what, I’m glad I’m here, couldn’t have asked for a better spot, couldn’t have asked for better customers. When Homewood takes you in, you’re in, and thank God they’ve taken me in,” said Wayne Salem.