The Story Behind Rod’s Diner

The Story Behind Rod’s Diner
Staff Writer

Photo by Julie Mirliss

If you’re anything like me, you’ve always had a striking need to know why Rod’s Diner serves both fro-yo and Korean food. The combination seems random to say the least, so I went on a mission to discover the back-story.

Photo by Julie Mirliss

This Ann Arbor staple has been around since 1988 when original owner Rod opened shop. As I entered, I was greeted by current owner Park who works 7 days a week from open to close, preparing and cooking all of the food himself.

Park explained that “the girls love my colliders” (let’s be honest, we do), but that in the winter, fro-yo can’t support this one-man show. So, when he took over shop in 2006 as the fourth owner of Rod’s, he decided to introduce his native cuisine: Korean food.


Photo by Julie Mirliss

Rod’s has been ranked multiple times by the Michigan Daily as the Best Korean food in Ann Arbor, specifically for having the best Bibimbap in A2, Rod’s most popular dish. Based off those accolades, Park’s nailed his goal of introducing American students to Korean food.

Yet, that really depends on your definition of Korean food. Park has himself admitted that the food he’s serving isn’t very authentic. Though the dishes may seem exotic, Park has altered his food to please the palates of American students. When I asked Park what his favorite dish was on the menu, he confessed he doesn’t eat any of it, pronouncing it too boring. He explained, ”American people don’t like the smell of true Korean food!”

Alas, to my dismay, there’s no crazy origin story behind this unlikely pairing of Korean food and frozen yogurt. Simply enough, Park wanted the students of Ann Arbor to appreciate Korean food, even if it’s a bit watered down. Given the awards and endless Rod’s devotees, it’s safe to say Park has accomplished his mission.

If you’ve never had a Bibimbap followed by a Collider from Rods, add it to that long “must try” list that any true Ann Arbor foodie holds near and dear to their heart.

It’s literally impossible to say no to a good Collider. Trust me, I’ve tried. Photo by Julie Mirliss

Insider Scoop: Michigan QB Devin Gardner comes in at least every other day for a Collider: vanilla yogurt, strawberries, bananas and cookie dough. Yes, I did try it and yes, you need to as well. However, my personal go-to Collider will forever be vanilla with Reese’s, chocolate sprinkles and cookie dough. Yum.


Seriously, how can you not trust that face? Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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