That’s right, it will be a good, old-fashioned diner with breakfast, burgers and the like. No frills, just American fare in a cozy environment.
“People like this downhome, regular food,” Staggers tells Insider Louisville. “We just want to make good food people want to come and eat.”
He added that it was something he’s wanted to do for a while as a way to satisfy his “fat kid at heart.”
The 4,300-square-foot space at 814 Cherokee Road for years housed a laundromat (how American is that?) and most recently a canoe and kayak store. The two-story building is at the intersection of Baxter, Broadway and Cherokee, just across from the entrance to Cave Hill Cemetery. It’s a spot many of us, including Staggers, passes regularly.
Commercial real estate firm Gant Hill and Associates announced the lease of this prime property on social media earlier today, citing a Louisville.com story that broke the news.
“If you draw a map around the (neighborhoods) where people in this town go … it’s right in the middle,” Staggers said.
Turns out he had scouted another location, which fell through, and this one came up unexpectedly.
“As soon as I walked into it, I said, ‘Oh my god, this is the perfect place,’” he said. “It’s really big inside. We can hold about 120 people in there.”
The diner will include, of course, a bar counter with plenty of stools, as well as tables and a “playroom” consisting of vintage video games, air hockey, couches and the like. It will be a place for kids and adults alike to hang out.
“There’s a dearth of places for young adults, for people with kids, for them to go out with their kids,” Staggers said. “There is nobody we exclude demographically with his kind of context.”
In other words, if you don’t like Creole cooking, you’re not going to go to Roux. Ten Tables is difficult to get into and relatively expensive. But America the Diner will have family-friendly price points. Burgers will be in the $7 range, for instance, and the most expensive meals on any given day will be the blue-plate specials.
Staggers noted that a few items – fried chicken, chicken livers, macaroni and butter beans – will jump over from the former menu he designed for The Monkey Wrench. But mostly it will be stuff you might eat at home. Grilled cheese sandwich? Check. Cheese and mayonnaise sandwich? Yep, just three bucks. You’ll be able to get an authentic New York bagel most days, too.
Speaking of which, breakfast will be available all the time at the 24/7 diner.
“You can go in there and get a single egg for a dollar,” Staggers said. “It will be just like a diner. You can go in there and piece yourself together a breakfast for four or five bucks.”
Eventually, there will be full bar service as well. And the place also will have 18 parking spaces.
“Basically, in the Highlands, that’s pretty much like a million parking spots,” Staggers said.
The goal is to be open just after Derby, he said, but Mother’s Day will be the latest. He said the building is mostly ready to handle the plans he and primary investor Scot Winskye have for the place, so it’s a matter of getting the permits and turning contractors loose on the space. The restaurant will employ approximately 35 people.
In addition, Winskye, an artist who painted all the murals in Roux, will take his brush to America the Diner as well, with a much different focus. It will, Staggers said, be geared to all ages and all demographics.
“I imagine we will have people we’ll see there six days a week who sit at the counter and eat the same breakfast,” Staggers said. “This is a place for everybody.”