Sep 9, 2008

Doc's Diner opens for the semester

by Dominique McKay

The grand opening of Liberty’s newest eatery, Doc’s Diner, took place following Wednesday’s convocation. The restaurant offered free menu samples, bounce houses, giveaways and music by Kase Project.

The ribbon cutting ceremony was attended by Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr., Pastor Jonathan Falwell, and their mother Macel Falwell, who was there for the signing of her recently published book, “Jerry Falwell: His Life and Legacy.”

“It’s exciting because it’s like you’re a part of a (new) beginning,” Mary Beth Smoot, a returning hostess and server, said.
The diner, located on East Campus and fashioned in a 1950s style, had a soft opening for students in April 2008, but was closed during the summer. It officially reopened in August and has now made its grand opening to the general public.

“We appreciate the fact that Sodexho, our food service provider for the last 30 years, has gone the extra mile to create a dining venue that will bring LU students and the community together. This diner will be one more reason that LU is the world’s most exciting university. My father always shied away from the idea of naming anything at LU for him, but I think he would be OK with the idea of a diner named in his honor, especially one that serves banana pudding,” said Jerry Falwell Jr.

Smoot worked on the staff at the soft opening and is one of a few returning staff members. Many new members of the staff are Liberty students who attended the soft opening last semester and, because of their experiences, were eager to apply for the new year.

“I got to come on one of the first days it was open (last semester),” Lauren Birdsall, server and junior at Liberty said. “It was really fun and the food was really good.”

Many staff members are looking forward to welcoming the general public to the diner.

“I love getting to talk to all the people,” Birdsall said. “I love it when elderly folks come in here and we get to just chat.”
The diner made small changes in its décor, with the addition of Dr. Falwell’s black suburban, parked outside the diner’s entrance. The diner has also added a few more giant pictures illustrating the life of Dr. Falwell and his family above the booths.

The menu has also been altered to accommodate customers outside of the Liberty community. It now features a kid’s menu with items such as a Johnnie Sundae, named after Campus Pastor Johnnie Moore.

One familiar item, the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Grinder), remains on the menu. The BHAG has held its ground as one of the diner’s top sellers, according to many of the diner’s servers.

Other changes to the diner include the addition of Doc’s General Store, a special section featuring diner memorabilia for sale, such as travel mugs, ‘Jerry’s Kid’ jerseys and red ties. The memorabilia is featured on the diner’s shelves for customers to see as they make their food selections.

“I didn’t know that much about (the diner), but now I think it’s going to be good,” said Ruth Thompson, who has attended Thomas Road Baptist Church for over 40 years and came to the grand opening.

Although the diner is now open to the general public, students still make up the majority of the customers, and many members of the staff enjoy having it that way.

“We’re always busy with students, especially at dinner,” sophomore Matt Thomsen said. “It gets a little crazy, but they’re really the life of the restaurant. When they’re in church, it’s just dead in here.”

The diner is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. 

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