Low prices aren’t the only thing that keeps customers coming back for more, said Laurie Bruder, 52, owner of the Old Town Diner located on 516 Grand River Avenue in Old Town, Lansing.
The quaint little diner attracts about 30 regular customers, some daily, some weekly and most are known by name. The family atmosphere and numerous breakfast options are part of the diner’s success, said Bruder.
The building has been open as various businesses since 1946. It was originally less than half the size of what it is now. An addition constructed in the late 1950s make the diner what it is today.
“One person can come in here and walk out of here full for $5,” said Bruder.
Bruder and her family try to keep prices affordable and balance profits with customer happiness.
“We’re not here to make millions,” said Bruder, emphasizing the family-style care and atmosphere they wish to maintain in the diner.
Bruder’s mother, sister and nephew all contribute to the diner in different ways, and even though her waitresses aren’t related to her, she considers them close enough to be family.
“Both my girls are really, really thoughtful servers,” she said, and mentioned how their top priority is to make sure that customers are always happy.
“I love working with with people and putting a smile on someone’s face,” said Britnie Hunter, 23, who has been serving customers at the diner for six years.
Both Bruder and Hunter agreed that there was a major difference in attitudes in franchise and family-owned restaurants.
“It’s laid back, it’s a relaxed environment,” said Hunter.
Two regulars, to Hunter known as the “Pop-a-Lock guys,” wearing their bright orange uniform shirts had to agreed that the Old Town Diner is a favorite. Mark Waller, 58, and Peter March, 61, have been coming to the diner for two years and almost weekly for the past six months.
“They know us and we know them,” said March of the diner staff, “we’re kind of hard to miss.”
March and Waller agree that the location and parking are convenient, and the food is great.
Waller even gushes about his favorite menu item, “The cinnamon roll…they should take the inside air here and pump it out the street so people can smell that delicious flavor that have going on in here.”
Patrons like the “Pop-a-Lock guys” are just a couple of the many regulars that the diner gets, and they’ll be back for more.