KINSMAN - Times Square Restaurant played a role in helping Joyce Kerchofer, an ''Army brat'' born in Germany, get a copy of her lost birth certificate and was the site of her impromptu 40th wedding anniversary dinner.
It's the place were Harlan ''Buzz'' Fenn eats most of his meals.
And the diner, founded in 1946 in this farming community, is where Yvonne Yoblonski came with her late husband, John, for an after-dinner slice of pie and cup of joe decades ago. She still goes there once or twice a week.
Tribune Chronicle / Ron Selak Jr.
Phil Stanhope, 60, of Williamsfield, catches up on the news while waiting for his meal at the Times Square Restaurant in Kinsman.
''It's the hub of the community,'' said Kerchofer, a regular at the diner. She's partial to its blueberry pancakes, flapjacks she says are ''bar none'' the best around.
Times Square Restaurant is also at the center of a lawsuit that claims the property owner and business operators let raw or partially treated sewage flow from the building into a tributary of Pymatuning Creek without a permit and, in doing so, created a nuisance and violated water quality standards.
The building's owner, Richard Thompson, and restaurant's operators, Carol and Ken Wilson, spent $21,000 to fix the problem, but the Ohio EPA now wants to collect a $70,000 fine. Thompson offered $3,500. The EPA contacted the attorney general's office to file a lawsuit. The case is pending in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
The legal tactics are a sharp contrast to the quaintness inside the standard, small-town diner.
Through the front entrance, there's a corkboard with business cards, advertisements, photocopied pictures of lost pets and assorted tchotchkes.
One of the two record playing jukeboxes there still works, but they're used more now to display news clippings and photos, including one of 78-year-old Flo Freeman, the restaurant's oldest and longest-working employee who helps make the famous pies.
In the dining area is a dry erase board listing the specials that change daily, but include macaroni and cheese and a country fried pork dinner.
''Good friends, good times and good food,'' is how Joni Woofter of Kinsman sums up the diner she's eaten at since a young girl, when meals there were special treats.
''My parents couldn't afford to take us out to eat all the time, but something special, like a birthday dinner,'' said Woofter, 62, a retired teacher.
Before the Wilsons bought the restaurant in 2009, they were frequent customers. ''My kids grew up in it,'' she said. ''We ate there after soccer and baseball and basketball. We always patronized it.''
So she didn't want to see it close, but Wilson admits she came into the business not really knowing how to run a restaurant.
''I'm lucky I had a heck of good crew,'' she said.
Whatever profit she has turned has gone back into the diner for equipment, seating and windows. Wilson estimates she's invested about $60,000 of her own and profit from the restaurant back into it.
The EPA fine threatens the Wilsons' success and angers Thompson, who claims selective enforcement. He points out that the EPA is not addressing similar issues elsewhere in the township, part of which has been identified as a potential health risk because of failing or malfunctioning septic systems.
''My neighbors are all doing the same thing and they didn't come after them,'' said Thompson, who added that an EPA attorney indicated that he could afford the fine because he was a successful businessman.
Ohio EPA spokesman Mike Settles declined to comment on the complaint or on Thompson's other claims.
If the restaurant fails to survive, the hometown gatherings die with it. Like Fenn. The Kinsman man eats most every meal at Times Square. The 65-year-old even has a sandwich named after him, the ''Buzzwich,'' which is sausage, egg and cheese on an English muffin.
''I get it so much, that's what they call it,'' he said.
The retired electrician even contracted jobs from the diner. People, he said, knew he was there frequently and would leave messages for him. Also, Fenn's second wife worked there and so did a couple girlfriends, ''but not at the same time.''
Kerchofer, 62, was in Times Square for a meal when former Congressman James A. Traficant unexpectedly dropped in, so she turned to him for help in getting a new birth certificate to replace the one that was lost.
''I walked up to him and said, 'I have a problem','' she recalled and went on to explain that she was an ''Army brat'' born in Germany and didn't know where to turn to have the document replaced.
Traficant, she said, helped.
The diner also is where she and her husband, Bob, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. The two stopped there to eat on a whim after a day of looking at antiques. It happened to be their anniversary and when Carol Wilson found that out, she bought the meal.
Freeman started at the restaurant on the midnight shift doing whatever needed done - cooking, waiting tables, washing dishes and baking. Now after 34 years, she just works on Sundays helping make the pies. Her favorites to make are chocolate and lemon, the favorites of her mother and father.
''Every time I make them, I have to taste them,'' Freeman said.