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Opening Your Own Diner


Whether you’re getting coffee with a friend, grabbing lunch with your family, or having a late-night milkshake or slice of pie after a movie date, diners are always a great option. These kinds of establishments always seem to have a way of making us feel nostalgic, reminding us of simpler times. To get a diner exactly right takes a lot of love and effort, and requires a very special person to deal with the challenges of running it all. If you think you have what it takes to open up your own diner, then here are some things to keep in mind as you’re getting started.

Finding the Right Location

The first step toward opening your dream diner is to find the right location for it. There are many things to consider when looking for the right property. If you want your diner to be somewhere that guarantees a lot of passing foot traffic, then you should consider looking for available spaces downtown in the heart of your city. Of course, if you go this route, you sacrifice amenities that might be convenient for your customers like parking. If this is particularly important to you, then you might want to find a stand-alone property. In addition to location, you also need to think about the type of environment you want your diner to have. Diners come in all shapes and sizes now, built from scratch, created from remodeled houses or storefronts, or even converted from old buses or train cars. While building a diner from a converted train car might turn heads and attract more business, there are many benefits of buying an existing restaurant and turning it into the diner of your dreams. First, you’re guaranteed to know that the space will work for your intended purpose, but going this route can also save you plenty of time and money that you would be otherwise blowing on expensive remodels. If you find a property with the right bones for your goal, then you can focus on sprucing up the decor and the overall environment of your diner.

Nailing Down Your Decor

One of the most important things to keep in mind when opening your diner is that you want to stick with a single theme in your furniture, decor, and menus. Some diners opt for a classic, 50s-style malt shop theme, hanging black and white pictures of old-Hollywood film stars and singers, while others might opt for a more country-style diner, using pictures of farm animals and shelves stacked with jars of preserves in their decor. Whatever you decide for the theme of your diner, it should be clear to your guests as soon as they walk through the door–and a theme doesn’t necessarily have to be something like a ‘50s malt shop,’ it could just be a type of design style or color scheme. The most important thing in creating a successful design is consistency.

Building a Strong Menu

Just like with your decor, consistency is incredibly important in your menu. You want to offer a spread of options that make sense being listed together. Don’t try to mix too many different types of cuisines, otherwise, it could affect your perceived credibility from customers. If you offer a turkey dinner alongside tacos, falafel, and escargot, they’re less likely to trust the quality of any of these dishes, since they’re all such different styles of cooking. So, to earn the trust of customers, try to choose dishes that are all of the same styles of cooking–a great choice being anything that falls under the category of ‘comfort food’–and even consider implementing a few dishes that reflect the local cuisine, like lobster mac and cheese or clam chowder if your diner is on the coast.

Everyone knows, of course, that the most important kind of food you can offer at a diner is breakfast. To build a successful breakfast menu, you should offer different combos that include a mix of entrees like pancakes, waffles, toast, and sides like eggs, hashbrowns, or different kinds of breakfast meats. If you want to do breakfast right at your diner, then you should offer it at any point from open to close. Customers go nuts for all-day breakfast. Another common staple in any classic diner is the glass case full of baked goods by the register. You should try to figure out what your diner’s signature baked good is. Many diners around Ontario might decide to opt for some classic Canadian desserts like butter tarts, pouding chomeur, and an assortment of pies like flapper pie, sugar pie, or saskatoon berry pie.

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