Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

May 22, 2011

A diner of decades ago

By Denise Massie
For the Kokomo Tribune

— GALVESTON — Cooking has been a passion for Lisa Downhour for as long as she can remember.

“I grew up cooking with my mom since I could stand at the counter,” she said.

Lisa says her mother was the 16th child in her family.

“So, I learned how to cook from the get-go,” she said.

She even worked in a diner for about five years when she was younger.

For many years, Downhour had a dream of opening her own restaurant, but with seven children, something else always seemed to take priority. Now that her youngest children, twins, will soon start kindergarten, Downhour decided it was finally her time.

“I’ve always been a busy person,” she said. “I can’t imagine just sitting around and waiting for them to come home.”

After some thought, she decided Galveston was

the perfect place to open a business.

“I saw a need,” she said. “There weren’t any restaurants where people could come and eat breakfast.”

After three months of renovations, Lisa’s Diner opened April 30 in a former tanning salon. Downhour said she had enjoyed every minute so far.

“To me, when I walk into this place, it’s not a job,” she said. “It’s my passion.”

Lisa’s Diner offers both breakfast and lunch. Menu options include breakfast sandwiches, omelets, eggs, pancakes, hash browns, bacon, sausage, toast, patty melts, burgers, chicken strips, grilled cheese, soup, salads and several sides.

The most popular choices are the tenderloin and fish sandwiches. Downhour says everyone who comes in describes the tenderloin as the best they’ve ever eaten.

A popular breakfast option is biscuits and gravy. Downhour makes her gravy from scratch every morning and feels it’s important to do so.

“I just wouldn’t feel right putting something on a plate that I wouldn’t serve to my kids or family,” she said.

She also offers a special homemade lunch Monday through Friday. Her specials include meatloaf, ham and beans, barbecue pulled pork, chicken and noodles and lasagna. Slices of pie are also available.

“Most of the home-cooked meals are recipes I learned from my mom,” she said.

Saturday’s homemade special will be the “Chef’s Choice,” giving Downhour an opportunity to introduce her customers to a new recipe and offer a little more variety.

Over time, she might adjust the homemade meal selections, she said, depending on what goes over well and what doesn’t.

When decorating the diner and setting the mood, Downhour decided she wanted to focus on the 1950s. While growing up and visiting her paternal grandmother, she had the opportunity to listen to Elvis and Patsy Cline.

“I love to listen to the old rock-and-roll,” she said.

All of her breakfast specials are nicknamed with a 1950s theme.

She hopes eventually to expand the restaurant’s hours and perhaps offer customers a dinner option.

No matter what day it is, Downhour said, she will always be at the diner when it is open for business.

“It’s very important to me,” she said. “I want to make sure the customers get service the way I want it provided and the food is served the way I want it.”

So far, the response has been positive.

“We are already building up regular clientele,” she said. “If they aren’t here for breakfast, they are for lunch.”

One of the most rewarding parts of the business for Downhour is the opportunity to interact with her customers and to hear them say “thank-you for the good food,” when they leave.

“We enjoy knowing people’s names,” she said. “Whether it is repeat customers or one timers, they will get the same quality of food and service.”