Finishing touches are being put on Doc’s Diner, the newest eating establishment on the Liberty University campus.
The diner, which is named after the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, is scheduled to open exclusively to LU students from April 24 to May 8.
It will be closed for the summer before opening to the public on Aug. 14.
LU students will be part of a testing phase and will get a chance to offer their input on the diner’s food, service and atmosphere.
Jeff Ledbetter, retail manager for Doc’s Diner, said there will be an official opening and ribbon-cutting in the fall.
He said although students will be their main customers, he expects the restaurant to be popular with the greater Lynchburg community.
“It should be a hit with everybody. … Our vision is to have very home cooked, Southern hospitable–type items that are very economically priced, with great service and great atmosphere.”
There are 186 seats, with chairs and tables, booths and counter service like a regular diner. There’s also a separate room for parties and special guests.
Ledbetter said the menu is “a cross-section between IHOP, Cracker Barrel and Bob Evans, with some more contemporary items like chicken tenders, quesadillas – things students should like as well.”
And reading the menu itself should be entertaining, he said. There are numerous “Liberty-isms,” such as the “Champion Favorite” breakfast and “Liberty Mountain Waffles” and “Spirit of the Mountain” fries. There’s also “The ’71 Burger” and “The ’71 Dog.” Then there’s “The Elmer Float” (for LU cofounder Dr. Elmer Towns) and “Macel’s Hot Apple Pie” (for Macel Falwell, wife of the late Dr. Falwell). And, of course, there’s “Doc’s Country-Fried Breakfast,” featuring two eggs, grits, country gravy, buttermilk biscuits, fried apples or hash browns, and country fried steak, and “Doc’s Favorite” dessert (creamy banana pudding served with vanilla wafers, banana slices and whipped cream).
Actually the whole concept of the restaurant pays homage to Liberty’s founder, Ledbetter said.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s his restaurant. It’s definitely a tribute to Dr. Falwell. We tried to look and see what he would have liked.”
Plans were already made for a food option on East Campus, including an idea for a diner, before Falwell died on May 15, 2007. The Falwell family has had a lot of input on the project, which is 18 months in the making.
“From the decorations to the menus, a lot of it comes from, one way or another, the Falwell family and memories that suit them,” Ledbetter said.
And just like Falwell has had a major impact on the city where he preached and grew a university, Ledbetter said he hopes the restaurant will have a big impact on Lynchburg as well.
“We really want it to come off like you’re walking into a real concept; we want it to be Dr. Falwell’s brand, Liberty’s brand, Lynchburg’s hometown brand,” he said. “That’s kinda what we want it to become, almost like an icon of the city.”
The diner will be decorated with memorabilia and photographs of Falwell, Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church.
And, if customers listen close enough, they may even hear Dr. Falwell’s signature honking of his truck horn.
Doc’s Diner is operated by Liberty Dining Services, a partnership of Sodexho Dining Services and Liberty University. Starting Aug. 14, it will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 11p.m. Friday and Saturday.