Fast food, with a side of heart and soul

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - The Beacon Diner will probably never get the American Heart Association seal of approval.

But the Beacon does have the approval of most everyone else. CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports it's a place where folks from across the country and line up -- out the door -- partly for the food you order. But also, partly for how your food is ordered.

J.C. Stroble, 70, is legally blind from glaucoma, and has been working at the Beacon since he was 15. How does Stroble still have fun on the job after all those years?

"I love it," he said. "You've got to love people, which I do."

He is what they call the caller. Customers tell him their order and he calls it out to the cooks -- often using a bizarre language of his own invention. Stroble said it's like a shorthand meant to keep the line moving as fast as possible. But, it can have the opposite effect.

Kenny Church, the general manager, said Stroble "doesn't realize what kind of show he puts on. They'll stand there and watch him for 15 or 20 minutes."

Customers like how he "hollers out the order for you," and "keeps order in this place." His popularity is something no fast worker has ever attained. Presidential candidates stop by to see him.

Still for Stroble, being all that is not the end-all-be-all. Stroble says he's most proud of his wife Robay.

Robay says family has always trumped fame. "He was a good father. That's why my kids are where they are and like they are now," she said.

Stroble wanted his kids to get an eduction. Three out of his four kids listened and graduated from college. But his oldest, Kiki, is a different story.

"I felt like I didn't need an education," she said. But her father, the one who never quit on anything, refused to give up on his daughter either. He just kept telling her, 'Go to college.' He said he told her every day, and never let up on her.

This went on for nearly 30 years until a few months ago, when Kiki, too, graduate from college. She studied philanthropy.

Kiki's motivation was to start the J.C. Stroble Glaucoma Awareness Foundation. Her vision is to save other people's vision. She'll no doubt be successful -- as long as she keeps listening to her dad.

"You gotta put your heart and soul into it", Stroble says. "Heart and soul."

  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.