For more than a decade, The Diner has been a mainstay of downtown Paonia. Music wafts daily from the ROCK-OLA jukebox, waitresses bustle about, refilling coffee cups and delivering plates piled high with biscuits and gravy, huevos rancheros and crispy hash browns and sweet homemade desserts like the Paonia Snowball. Customers answer trivia questions from Table Top Tickles and Bits and catch up on the latest news at the center table.
Diners learned last week that the iconic establishment will close its doors as of June 1. The closure has nothing to do with the economy, said Betty Majnik, who purchased the diner with John Sisson in 2005. "We're always packed."
The business, which was a diner when they purchased it, has been on the market for two and a half years and is listed by Western Colorado Realty for $195,000. It will remain on the market and will come with all but a few of the fixtures, said Majnik.
Over the years, The Diner has provided jobs for students and has been supportive of local athletics programs. Majnik said that on game days the Paonia Eagles football team would come in for breakfast. After winning two state titles, The Diner treated the entire team to burgers and fries, and one of the grandpas bought everyone milk shakes.
"The whole community has been very supportive," said Majnik. "I can't even tell them how much they are appreciated."
Majnik said she worked with of the restaurant's nine employees to find work, and many found full-time jobs in the area. "It's a very deep heart-felt goodbye," said Majnik. "Hopefully someone will open it back up."
On a related note, Snow Dogs reopened May 17 after an electrical fire last August 26 caused heavy damage to the kitchen and forced them to close. They expanded the seating area and painted the walls in bright colors to lighten the atmosphere, said Anna Raith, who with husband Kurt opened the business in 2013. They grew up in the Chicago area and carry on a Chicago tradition of using all Vienna beef.
On opening day they were overwhelmed with all the business. "It was fun seeing all the familiar faces as well as some new faces," she said. "Kurt and I are very grateful."
Their menu remains largely unchanged. To show they have a sense of humor, the owners added the Paonia Fire Dog, a fire-grilled hot dog with Sriracha sauce, spicy brown mustard, onions, jalapenos, sport pepper, their home-made spicy pickle and a pickle on a poppy seed bun to the menu.
Along about March, and after dealing with delays, missed deliveries and other problems, they were starting to wonder if they could open before summer, said Raith, but by the end of April they knew they would make it. "Sometimes you just have to scream a little bit, but you deal with it," said Raith. "That's just life."