Campaign Eats: Inside New Hampshire’s Red Arrow Diner

Winning over hearts can't be done on an empty stomach.

ByABC News
October 26, 2015, 11:55 AM

— -- Winning over hearts in New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina can't be done on an empty stomach.

Residents of the three early presidential primary and caucus states have become accustomed to the quadrennial candidate wooing ritual at diners and local businesses. A select few have even become unofficial regular haunts for presidential candidates who come to meet local folks over local fare.

The Red Arrow Diner is one of them.

Nestled in Manchester, N.H., the restaurant has become a political institution in its own right. ABC News got an inside look at the campaign landmark visited by famous politicians and celebrities (like Matthew McConaughey).

"It is the place to be...a diner in any community is the focal point," explained Carol Lawrence, owner of The Red Arrow Diner. Lawrence said the popular eatery became a regular fixture on the campaign trail in 2000.

So, who leaves a good tip? Bill Clinton, apparently.

According to Lawrence's "political waitress," Elaine Boule, the former president bought all the patrons coffee and left her a handsome tip during a visit campaigning for his wife's 2008 presidential bid. Clinton even gave Boule the campaign pin off his lapel.

"I think I'm going to start wearing it, maybe she'll come back in this year," Boule added of Hillary Clinton, now the current Democratic front-runner for president in 2016.

Lawrence admitted she was pleasantly surprised that Hillary was "so gracious" during the visit. "[Hillary] looked you in the eye when she spoke with you -- a lot of them don't," she explained.

One thing the 2008 Clinton campaign wasn't a fan of: Red Arrow's tradition of "de-virginizing" first-time customers.

Normally, employees ring a bell to announce a patron's inaugural visit and the customer gets a sticker announcing he or she has been "de-virginized" from the diner. But not Hillary.

"Her aide called and said, 'Listen, we have a request: You cannot de-virginize Hillary Clinton,'" recalled Lawrence. "And I was like, 'Are you kidding me?' It was pretty funny."

ABC News' Arlette Saenz, Michael Falcone and Tom Thornton contributed to this production.