Down­town Diner of­fers com­fort food with a nos­tal­gic touch,

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY CARA AN­THONY can­thony@bnd.com Cara An­thony: 618-239-2471

GRAN­ITE CITY

How does a dough­nut burger and a hot cup of cof­fee at 3 a.m. sound?

After a late-night movie or a long shift at work, you can or­der one at the new­est diner in the metro-east, where whim­si­cal and clas­sic late-night eats make up the menu.

Down­town Diner, 1318 Niedring­haus Ave. in Gran­ite City, wants to serve com­fort food to lo­cal work­ers in the area as well as fam­i­lies, se­niors, mil­len­ni­als and, well, ev­ery­one.

The diner of­fi­cially opened Sept. 30.

“Sales have been beyond our wildest ex­pec­ta­tions,” owner Brenda Whi­taker said ear­lier in Oc­to­ber, a few days after the diner opened. “I want to per­son­ally thank ev­ery­one that has joined us.”

WHAT’S ON THE MENU?

Cus­tomers showed up in droves to try the diner’s home­made chili, peanut squares and made-to-or­der burg­ers.

The re­sponse was so over­whelm­ing that Whi­taker said she had to tem­po­rar­ily close the diner to re­stock and re­boot after the soft open­ing.

From a fried frank cov­ered in cheese and ba­con to a cheese- burger salad and fried bologna, the menu of­fers a wide range of items.

Clas­sic fa­vorites from Gran­ite City school Dis­trict’s retro menu are pop­u­lar, too.

Tuna bum­steads, chili, tomato soup and peanut but­ter squares keep cus­tomers com­ing back for more, Whi­taker said.

There’s even talk of adding the school dis­trict’s old tra­di­tional square pizza to the menu.

TAKE A WALK DOWN ME­MORY LANE

Gran­ite City quickly em­braced the diner and Whi­taker’s vi­sion for the space.

Retro toys, col­lectibles and im­ages from the 1970s are on dis­play in the throw­back diner.

Whi­taker said she looked for ways to tell the town’s story and honor its his­tory.

“I love my home­town,” Whi­taker said. “I just think we have so much to of­fer. I just re­mem­ber what it was like for me as a kid when we would go into a diner or a lit­tle spe­cialty shop. I just think that’s what makes ev­ery com­mu­nity unique.”

ABOUT THE OWNER

There’s a good chance you’ll see Whi­taker work­ing in the diner through­out the week.

She does it all.

From help­ing out in the kitch- en to serv­ing cus­tomers dur­ing a lunch rush, Whi­taker works the floor.

A na­tive of Gran­ite City, she opened her first busi­ness in town 18 years ago. She now owns five Gran­ite City busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the Gar­den Gate Tea Room and the Novel Idea Book­store.

She’s in­vested in the city where par­ents, Roy and Mary Whi­taker, raised their fam­ily.

“This has al­ways been a fam­ily-ori­ented com­mu­nity. We’re cen­trally lo­cated, min­utes from ev­ery­where,” Whi­taker said. “I think we’re a hid­den gem.”

WANT TO GO?

Down­town Diner is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

And now that you’ve read about the new­est diner in the metro-east, you’ll want to read about new res­tau­rants com­ing to the metro-east.

Be sure to also check out un­usual places to eat in the area at https://bit.ly/2S0P4Cs.

‘‘ I LOVE MY HOME­TOWN. I JUST RE­MEM­BER WHAT IT WAS LIKE FOR ME AS A KID WHEN WE WOULD GO INTO A DINER OR A LIT­TLE SPE­CIALTY SHOP. Brenda Whi­taker, owner, Down­town Diner

PHO­TOS BY CARA AN­THONY can­thony@bnd.com

Down­town Diner re­cently opened in Gran­ite City. The diner is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and fea­tures com­fort food fa­vorites.

The Mac Daddy hot dog is served at Down­town Diner in Gran­ite City.

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