It’s 2020. Restaurants have been hit hard. We see it all the time on the news and on our social media pages. So I, the marketing specialist in our e-commerce department, decided I wanted to interview those in the foodservice industry that follow and support us on our social pages or who buy from us directly. I want to support and promote those who have gone through so much and are managing to survive.

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I began asking people about their stories and their experiences, but for the next few weeks I would like to share their answers with you. This one almost had me in tears so I’m going to share it with you directly as it was told to me.

This interview was done electronically through email exchanges. Leonard and Dolly Lane, owners of Dolly’s Diner in Princeton, WV, are the ones who responded to my query.

How and when did you start your business?

Dolly's Diner

“Dolly and I purchased the Omelet Spot in 2016. The name was changed to Dolly's Diner in 2018. We had a fire in 2018 and rebuilt doing much of the design…and construction ourselves with a few of our cooks. We reopened in May of 2019.”

What was the inspiration behind Dolly’s Diner (The name and business concept)?

Dolly's

“When our kids were very small Leonard was working in the mines and frequently laid off. During those periods of unemployment, we would go out in the woods and cut a load of firewood to sell every day. Just like every other kid, they would ask if we could go out to dinner. Of course, we were struggling to make ends meet so my line to them was 'well we would either go to Sadie's Kitchen (my mom was Sadie) or we could go to Dolly's Diner (our kitchen).' So the name was already in place for many years before we ever thought about owning a restaurant. The business concept is an old fashioned 50's and 60's Diner. We just thought it would be a fun and unique (to our area) theme.”

What are your most popular menu items?

Philly

“We have a very large menu but the Omelets, as well as the Phillies and Clubs, are the top sellers every day after our evening Blue Plate specials. The specials are very well received even though, or because, most are simple home-style meals like meatloaf and spaghetti.”

Cake

"And don't forget Dolly's Homemade Desserts!"

What would you recommend to someone who has not tried your food before?

Omelets

“People rave about our burgers saying they are the best they have ever eaten but for breakfast all day the omelets are definitely up there.”

How has COVID-19 impacted your business? What adjustments have you had to make?

Employee with Mask

“Covid-19 has disrupted the supply chain on many items. We go through a lot of gloves for example and they have gone from $30 a box to as high as $160 a box. So we are constantly having to look for different deals and suppliers to try to maintain our prices as much as we can. We were using disposable paper menus and going through a ton of those to the tune of $1000 each month. We have switched to washable menus to try to help with this. Every employee is required to wear a mask. Soap was difficult to source for a long time. Some food items are having shortages also. So we constantly have to make changes and adapt on the fly.”

How has COVID-19 impacted you personally as a business owner or as an employee in the foodservice industry?

Dolly

“We were shut down from March until May when indoor dining was prohibited. When we were allowed to reopen towards the end of May we did so at 50% of capacity. We now have to pay a hostess to take names and send people out to their cars to wait for a table. But God is Good and we have been blessed with a lot of customers.”

What can we, as foodservice equipment dealers, do to help? How can customers and the community support you during this time?

“The community has been super supportive of us. I really don't know what you could do as a dealer except to realize we are all fighting for our life and help us out on costs where you can….”

(Several of our brands are currently offering financing and those who have an account with us have access to lower prices. You can sign up at DEQOnline.com/customer/account/create/. Also, please do not hesitate to call us. We can give better deals to those who shop directly with us. Some of our selling platforms - Amazon, eBay, Wal-Mart, etc. – charge us fees to use their sites. When you shop DEQOnline, shipping is always free.

For local businesses, I can strongly recommend Johnny Ward’s customer service! He has always been helpful when I have purchased something and he’s worked in the industry for many years. His experience with food trucks, selling concession, and working with restaurants makes him invaluable and I trust he’ll help in whatever way he can).

Is there anything that you would like to share with us about your business and its history?

Interior

“We see many customers from other parts of the country and the world and they all ask the same question. Is this a franchise? We say no it's just Mom and Pop. Dolly is a retired registered nurse and Leonard is an engineer for a local company who never thought about being restaurant operators. We don't know why God put us here but we know He has a reason. We employ about 30 to 35 people and sometimes we think it may be to be a positive influence on the employees' lives. We hope and pray we are making a difference in someone's life.”

If you’re ever in the area, their address is 909 Oakvale Road, Princeton WV. If you’re local, go try them out! Since we’ve eaten there ourselves, we can highly recommend their food and customer service!