One effect of the increase of commercial franchises is that the neighborhood hangout is becoming harder to find. (Starbucks, recognizing the phenomenon, brilliantly found a way to franchise hangouts.) The Delta doesn’t have the population to support many franchises, though, which is why one can still find authentic community-gathering places like Alma’s Café. The regulars start coming in at 5:30 in the morning, wearing caps and work boots, and are greeted by Vic Savale at the counter. Savale and his family have been running the joint since 1976, and the faded Formica counters reveal the wear of a million platters and coffee mugs. Alma’s menu offers straightforward diner food, but, unlike the chains, this place bakes its own desserts and cuts fresh potatoes for the deep fryer. “Where the Elite Meet to Eat,” declares the menu. Tongue-in-cheek humor aside, Alma’s is a rare and special place to hang out. 14147 River Road, Walnut Grove, 776-1650.