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Breakfast as usual at Virginia Beach diner

By Bryan Long

A cleanup crew loads sandbags Thursday in the wind and rain on the oceanfront in Virginia Beach.
A cleanup crew loads sandbags Thursday in the wind and rain on the oceanfront in Virginia Beach.

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VIRGINIA BEACH (CNN) -- With the rest of Virginia Beach hunkered down or gone to higher ground, a small group of hardy residents stopped by Waffles 'N Things as if Thursday's rain and wind were just another storm.

"I have breakfast every morning," Bill Dillon explained, "so I'm having breakfast this morning. And this is the only one open."

The restaurant stands a block from the surging Atlantic Ocean.

Waffles 'N Things did not appear to be open at first glance. Just like a long stretch of stores down Atlantic and Pacific avenues, this 24-hour breakfast shack had windows boarded up with plywood.

A dim glow shone from a single doorway giving a hint that the place was open for business. The five cars parked in front also stood in stark contrast to the dozens of nearby empty lots.

Tina Smith has managed Waffles 'N Things through dozens of storms and a few hurricanes for almost 15 years.

She didn't close for Hurricane Floyd in 1999, and she said she doesn't expect to shut down for Isabel.

"I know how to brew coffee on the grill," she said. "We've got gas, so even if the power goes out, I can keep cooking."

She let most of her staff go home. "The girls," she said, "went home yesterday."

At 6:30 a.m., the cook, David, whipped up Virginia ham, omelets, biscuits and, of course, coffee for eight customers.

But David, who doesn't like to use his last name, planned to go home before noon with his girlfriend, Amanda Mills. It's a few blocks away.

Mills said they're prepared with flashlights, batteries, candles and lots of water.

Even Mills, who just moved to the beach from Michigan two months ago, seemed to brush off the storm.

"I don't think it will be that bad," she said. "It's only a Category 2. When it was a Category 4, I was worried. Now it's nothing."

Kerry Brown, who has seen decades' worth of hurricanes, seems equally unaffected.

"It doesn't bother me a bit," Brown said.

But not everyone in this corner of Virginia Beach feels the same way.

Dillon knows at least one person who didn't want to ride out the storm.

"My wife left," he said. "Her and the dog took off."

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