I’ve been working in the restaurant and food industry all my life, beginning with helping my grandmother at her place when I was just 11 years old. I’ve had jobs all over the world as a private chef; my own commercial kitchen in Chicago burned down to the ground before I even opened it; and we opened Joe’s Diner in Phoenix in August 2010 — at the tail end of a recession. It’s fair to say I’ve encountered some adversities throughout my career.
But I’ve learned from those experiences. There are circumstances, like COVID-19, that I just can’t control. What I can do is manage it. More than anything, this has become about safety and caring for people. So I do everything in my power to ensure that our customers still feel safe dining here. We’ve been in “survival mode” since March to do what we need to do to keep our doors open, keep our employees working, and keep our customers coming back. We’ve had to cut hours and we’ve cut our in-restaurant capacity in half, but I believe we’ll survive this.
I am on site, and I have a great crew that believes in my systems and protocols, which makes it easy to execute new safety requirements. We’ve modified our restaurant with the addition of plexiglass partitions, built out private booths with wall barriers, and our freestanding tables are at least six feet apart. We’re sanitizing everything with 190-proof cleansers literally all day long. I used to want our customers to come in and smell bacon frying; now, I want them to come in and smell cleaning products.
We’re a diner — so our food is comforting and hearty. We’ve got breakfast burritos, pancakes, biscuits and gravy . . . And everything we make is from scratch because I believe fresh is an ingredient. But breakfast foods like scrambled eggs don’t always carry well. So, we’ve introduced some items that are designed to be easy to-go meals, including our new chicken pot pies.
Ultimately, we want our customers to feel comfortable coming in, sitting down, chatting and enjoying the restaurant experience. We provide the normalcy that people miss of simply going out for breakfast. Dining is about social interaction as much as it is about nourishment. We’re looking out for your health; I run around here all day to make sure that yes, your food is good, but also that you’re safe and happy. That’s my job. It can be stressful, but I love it.
4515 N. 7th Ave., Phoenix
Two eggs, bacon, potatoes and choice of bread or biscuit
|Grilled Chicken Breast Salad
Marinated chicken breast with blue cheese crumbles, hard-boiled egg, chopped bacon, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions on sweet baby lettuce
|Build Your Own Burger with cheese and bacon
comes with choice of side
Joe Seriale is co-owner of Joe’s Diner.
Photos courtesy of Joe’s Diner