Dee’s Diner is a hole-in-the-wall family restaurant that sits on E. 4th Street not far past the grain bins and near the Ohio River. The diner that brags it serves the best breakfast in town has been open for almost a decade and some of the original staff still work there today.
Even before opening day in March of 2009, one woman was there to make sure it was a success — Lil Bit.
Lil Bit, who never goes by her real name — Patricia, is a small, but fiesty woman with some years to her name. She began working at the diner before the doors opened to the public and almost 10 years later she still loves coming to work.
“I helped clean and get it ready to open,” she said. “I will be here nine years in March and I ain’t planning on leaving anytime soon. This is my family.”
Lil Bit is not just another employee though — everyone who comes into Dee’s knows her by her nickname and calls her a friend. She runs the cash register, answers the phone, works the drive-thru and helps package to-go meals. She basically does a little bit of everything.
Aside from the owners, Lil Bit was one of the first employees hired. The owner at the time, Dee Harper was her former boss at Burger King and when she talked about opening Dee’s Diner, she took Lil Bit with her.
“She was a good boss there and she is a good boss here,” Lil Bit said. “It’s like we’re a part of this big family. She’s just great to work for.”
Kenneth Harper, Dee’s son, now owns the business said he has known Lil Bit for most of his life.
“I’ve known her for as long as I can remember,” he said. “She’s basically part of the family now. She’s just a firecracker. People love it. She jokes with everybody and is always happy. She’s just an all-around great person.”
Lil Bit and Kenneth both agreed the diner is more than just a dining establishment, it’s more like a second home.
“I think this place is special because when you come in you feel family warmth,” she said. “You’re not just a customer here, you’re like family.”
Lil Bit said she wants every person who walks through the doors at Dee’s to feel like they belong. For anyone who has never been a patron at Dee’s, Lil Bit encourages “y’all to come on out.”
“Our food is famous,” she said. “Come on in your overalls, in your pajamas and house shoes if you want to. Come on down and try us and see what you think.”
She said one of her favorite parts of working at the diner is talking with all the customers who come in to visit or grab a bite to eat.
“Even if they just sit here and have a cup of coffee, they are smiling,” she said. “They like the atmosphere. It’s not like we’re all robots around here. We talk to them, we laugh and joke with them, we cry with them.”
While their breakfast food is known around town, Lil Bit said her favorite is the steak and eggs.
“I love the way they make a ribeye — it’s magnificent,” she said. “Ain’t nothing like it — breakfast of champions.”