Food & Drink

Doughnut burgers, chili dogs and peanut squares made to order at this new 24-hour diner

Downtown Diner Granite City

Downtown Diner recently opened in Granite City. The 24-hour diner has a retro-vibe and throwback menu.
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Downtown Diner recently opened in Granite City. The 24-hour diner has a retro-vibe and throwback menu.

How does a doughnut burger and a hot cup of coffee at 3 a.m. sound?

After a late night movie or a long shift at work, you can order one at the newest diner in the metro-east where whimsical and classic late night eats make up the menu.

Downtown Diner, 1318 Niedringhaus Ave. in Granite City, wants to serve comfort food to local workers in the area as well as families, seniors, millennials and, well, everyone.

The diner officially opened Sept. 30.

“Sales have been beyond our wildest expectations,” owner Brenda Whitaker said earlier in October, a few days after the diner opened. “I want to personally thank everyone that has joined us.”

What’s on the menu?

Customers showed up in droves to try the diner’s homemade chili, peanut squares and made-to-order burgers.

The response was so overwhelming that Whitaker said she had to temporarily close the diner to restock and reboot after the soft opening.

From a fried frank covered in cheese and bacon to a cheeseburger salad and fried Bologna, the menu offers a wide range of items.

Classic favorites from Granite City school District’s retro menu are popular, too. Tuna bumsteads, chili, tomato soup and peanut butter squares keep customers coming back for more, Whitaker said.

There’s even talk of adding the school district’s old traditional square pizza to the menu.

Take a walk down memory lane

Granite City quickly embraced the diner and Whitaker’s vision for the space.

Retro toys, collectibles and images from the 1970s are on display in the throwback diner.

Whitaker said she looked for ways to tell the town’s story and honor its history.

“I love my hometown,” Whitaker said. “I just think we have so much to offer. I just remember what it was like for me as a kid when we would go into a diner or a little specialty shop. I just think that’s what makes every community unique.”

Want to know more about the owner?

There’s a good chance you’ll see Whitaker working in the diner throughout the week.

She does it all.

From helping out in the kitchen to serving customers during a lunch rush, Whitaker works the floor.

A native of Granite City, she opened her first business in town 18 years ago. She now owns five Granite City businesses, including the Garden Gate Tea Room and the Novel Idea Bookstore.

She’s invested in the city where parents, Roy and Mary Whitaker, raised their family.

“This has always been a family-oriented community. We’re centrally located, minutes from everywhere,” Whitaker said. “I think we’re a hidden gem.”

Want to go?

Downtown Diner is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And now that you’ve read about the newest diner in the metro-east, you’ll want to read about new restaurants coming to the metro-east. Be sure to also check out about unusual places to eat in the area.

Cara Anthony: 618-239-2471.
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