Wednesday marked the 1-year anniversary of Kim’s Diner, and owner Kim Phelps said that the diner was so packed with support that the number of patrons wanting to celebrate exceeded the number chairs available.
Kim’s Diner is located at 1206 East 18th Street in the building previously occupied by Dugout Diner. Phelps had worked at the diner for 2 years prior to taking ownership.
Phelps said she opened the location a year ago to further her and her father’s dream of owning their own diner, though Phelps lost her father to COVID in December 2021. She said when the former owners decided to get out of the restaurant business, they knew how much they could help make her dream come true.
“They gave me the first opportunity. They knew I really wanted to do that one day,” she said. “My fiance was like, ‘Just go with it. You know your dad would be so proud of you and that’s what he would want you to do.’”
So she took the leap and used every dollar she had been saving to open Kim’s Diner.
Now, Phelps says she knows her dad is proud of her as she runs from table to table greeting her regulars by first name with their orders on her mind. And she and her staff try to treat every customer as her own family, learning about them, their family, and their stories.
“Everybody here knows me and if they don’t, they get to know me real quick and I make them feel at home. This is not just a place for me to make money … This is home,” Phelps said.
Over the last year when the avian flu outbreak happened, combatting skyrocketing egg prices was a challenge she had to overcome. But Phelps said her customers’ satisfaction was paramount and that meant standing firm on the normal menu prices.
“I never once went up, not even a quarter. I toughed it out. It was a loss, but I toughed it out because I knew it was going to come back down. Bird flu can’t last forever,” she said.
It was that constant price structure and the friendly service that kept her customers coming back over the year, Phelps said.
So Wednesday morning when the diner opened, the staff was greeted with a full parking lot and a crowded of hungry and celebratory customers. And while the support from the community has been extremely important, Phelps especially tips her hat to her crew in the diner.
“I appreciate all the business and all the love. I could not be where I am right now without my team,” she said. “I’d be nothing without them.”