Grey Towers

2047 York Road

A reflection of the memories forever held in a diner on the main road.

The+iconic+sign+as+found+on+the+diner%27s+website
The iconic sign as found on the diner's website

The iconic sign as found on the diner's website

The iconic sign as found on the diner's website

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Everyone who has been in a high school production knows the tradition: after the show, you go to the Nautilus. But during my first Maryvale show, the Wizard of Oz, I remember being confused as to why the seniors chose the Nautilus. I thought, I live five minutes from this place, why would I want to go there after a show? I’m tired, I’m sweaty, and I’m still covered in glitter and makeup. What’s the big deal with the Nautilus?

But I went, I understood. It’s a special place. After the euphoria of performing and the stress of being on stage—between costume malfunctions and mic troubles—the Nautilus creates an environment unlike any other.

It is good people who make good places.”

— Anna Swell

After months of sharing the stage and the dressing room with a group of people—working hard, studying lines, and building the set—these people become like family. Each cast is a unique team that builds each other up to put on a fantastic show. And no two casts are the same. Going to the Nautilus after a performance is a celebration of that cast and that family. Because we all know that after the last curtain drops, this family will never be the same.

After that first time going to the Nautilus after the Wizard of Oz, I looked forward to it with every show. It wasn’t long before I realized that this experience is a staple of high school theatre. More than once, the Nautilus has been double booked with different high school programs and the big casts have to share the space and make sure to tip well for the phenomenal service.

But it makes me wonder…why Nautilus? It’s just a diner, what makes it so special?

Well, on the other hand, it is a diner. The food is fast, always hot, and the Nautilus has a huge menu to cater to any post-show cravings. It’s a safe place for theatre kids to congregate and decompress after a long show. The retro interior has plenty of space and is sectioned out to accommodate huge parties. And, the Nautilus is always open, so there’s no fear of being kicked out.

It’s like the staff knows when a show is happening. They look at us—that crazed, tired smile, the wild hair, smudged makeup, and loose-fitting clothes—and say, “Right this way,” and are ready with a cup of coffee and several separate checks.

When I went to the Nautilus for the last time with Calvert Hall, I felt kind of unprepared. It was the second weekend of the show and we had gone the night before. I kind of knew it was my last trip to the Nautilus after a high school show but I tried not to focus on that.

Yet, it was like any other Nautilus trip. The food was a relief from the stress of the night and the coffee was a comfort, quite like the people around me.

The night was filled with laughter, tears, and more than one embarrassing video to be saved for blackmail. When it was time to say goodnight, I knew it would be the last time I would have an experience quite like this. I knew I would still see those faces the next day and we would have to do it all again. But after that, what?

Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

— L.M. Montgomery

It hurts, knowing I may never experience something like that ever again. There is something inexplicable about the place that Nautilus has in my heart. All this time, it has been nothing but a glowing sign on a dark road, soft booths, tall metal milkshake glasses, and conversation as warm as the simple plate of fries before me.

But now that the memories are just memories, I see that it was not just the friends—as casts come and go with every show—but Nautilus itself. And not just the place, but the people working there who are always prepared and always welcoming with a place to stay and talk for hours. It’s a place to share food and conversation, a place that harbors memories unlike any other, and a place that I may always visit but never in the same way—the Nautilus.

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2047 York Road