Sign Could Memorialize President’s Restaurant Visit

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AKRON– Saturday will mark exactly one year to the day since President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit to Ann’s Place, a family-owned diner on Hawkins Avenue in Akron.

While on a campaign bus tour of Ohio the president stopped in on July 6 for a breakfast of eggs over medium and bacon.

For those who were in the restaurant with him, it was a moment they still like to talk about.

“Well, I didn’t think it would never happen in my lifetime, meeting a president,” said Lee Haley of Akron.

“I think it’s one of the greatest things that could happen in this community, you know, to have a president come to our community, to take the time out and to come see us,” said Richard Varner.

The visit was bittersweet.

Later that morning, Josephine ‘Ann’ Harris, the restaurant’s owner felt ill and was taken to a local hospital where she died.

Her daughter, Wilma Parsons, said the presidential visit was something that thrilled her mother.

“Just to see the look on her face and the smile, it was nice,” said Parsons.

Some in the community believe the presidential visit makes the restaurant a historic landmark.

“I have people come here just because he has eaten here,” said Robert Giles, a longtime regular customer.

“You know, we don’t know when another president might come; but this one came,” said Varner.

Parsons said she was approached by Cynda Williams of Akron who wants to memorialize the president’s visit with a sign telling the world that the president ate there.

Parsons gave her approval to the effort as long as the original sign stays put.

“My mom- she was happy when that sign went up. My mom and my two aunts, they worked hard to get that sign up; so that’s just part of the business you know. It’s got to stay,” said Parsons.

The fundraiser menu Saturday will include ribs and chicken breast. $2 from each of the meals sold will go toward the effort to put up the new sign.

But customers can always order eggs over medium, bacon and grits, what the restaurant now calls its ‘Obama Special.”

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