At the lunch counter of Laurel’s Tastee Diner, waitresses and cooks recognize the regulars taking a seat on the blue stools next to the gold-speckled countertop.
“George! Where you been?” waitress and cashier Donna Rock asked as she cleaned a booth. “Dead? Jail?”
Rock hadn’t seen the elderly, white-haired man — one of her most loyal customers — in a month. He quietly sipped coffee from a 1950s-style mug, then responded.
“Jail” he said, eliciting chuckles.
It’s that connection of humor and compassion, developed over four decades between customers and staff, that residents fear will be lost in a plan that…