City Business

The Diner

A new north side diner offers hearty, southern-style fare with an occasional cajun twist.

By - Jun 27th, 2013 02:31 pm
The DINER. Photo by Rose Balistreri.

The DINER. Photo by Rose Balistreri.

In a small, cozy building on the corner of Green Bay Ave. and Olive St, just a few blocks north of Capitol Dr., The Diner (4191 N. Green Bay Ave.) serves as a home-away-from-home for Milwaukee residents who are looking for a taste of the South.

Lisa Gray, co-owner of the restaurant and chief financial officer for Gray’s Restaurant Group, said she and her husband, Charleston Gray, wanted the name – and the restaurant – to represent traditional diner food with a Southern twist.

Charleston, the company’s chief executive officer, has worked in the hospitality and food business for over 30 years, according to Lisa. He has served as a chef in the U.S. Navy and played an important role in the development of the Harley-Davidson Motor Bar & Restaurant, located at 401 W Canal St. Lisa has also worked in the hospitality business for many years

“We love the hospitality business and both consider ourselves foodies,” Lisa says.

Charleston now works as the Diner’s executive chef, spending most of his time behind the grill with three other line cooks. Lisa said most of the menu items are recipes passed down from family members.

Inside The DINER. Photo by Rose Balistreri.

Inside The DINER. Photo by Rose Balistreri.

Lisa said she and her husband wanted to couple great diner food with classic southern hospitality. Lisa said the restaurant gives those living outside of the Third Ward the opportunity to have a quality eating experience close to home.

“You don’t have to go Downtown to eat good food anymore,” Lisa says. “It was one of the reasons we chose not to open the restaurant there.”

Lisa said their choice in locale was based on her husband’s desire to distance themselves from the big business lifestyle. “We wanted to focus on the food,” she says. “It’s important to us to be involved in the community.”

The DINER has a number of specials throughout the week, including its Red’s Fish Fry, serving Southern-styled catfish and other seafood every Friday. On Saturday, customers can enjoy Rohn’s Gumbo, which offers all the tastes of a traditional New Orleans gumbo, according to Lisa.

The restaurant serves breakfast all day, with lots of different waffles (including blueberry and banana caramel) and “scrambles” rather that omelets, meaning the ingredients in a Denver omelet are combined in a dish more like scrambled eggs. Easily the most unusual breakfast item is chicken and waffles, but others include shrimp and grits and pulled pork hash.

Great food at The DINER. Photo by Rose Balistreri.

Great food at The DINER. Photo by Rose Balistreri.

The lunch and dinner is long on wings (three kinds), burgers and sandwiches like Fried Buffalo Chicken and Bar-B-Q Meatball.  All the desserts, dubbed “Lisa’s Treats” and true to the restaurant’ Southern-style, are fresh made and change daily.

“It all depends on how we’re feeling,” she said.

While the wait might be longer than you are used to, Lisa said it is well worth it. The menu items are home cooked and made to order, she said.

“Cooking fresh food is important to us,” she said. “It’s healthier and we wouldn’t want to serve our customers anything we wouldn’t eat ourselves.”

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Categories: City Business

One thought on “City Business: The Diner”

  1. John says:

    Chicken and waffles unusual? Ummmm… that is a very typical southern dish.

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