Robert and Mimi Davis save restaurant from closure, will take over ownership from Jeanie Dagnall
ATASCADERO — The residents of the North County were taken by surprise when Jeanie Dagnall, the former owner of A-Town Diner, took to the business’s Facebook page on Thursday, Sept. 1, to announce that the Atascadero staple would be closing for good at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 4.
“We were just so blessed, I mean, this weekend it was just so wonderful. It was super busy and people from all over, I had people that came out of town, that come in from out of town that found out we were closing that drove all the way here to come and eat at our restaurant,” Dagnall said. “To see the support, I mean, we had just so many tears. It was a lot of emotions going on this weekend. It was so great to have the support of the community.”
A-Town Diner did not make it to its Sept. 4 closing date and officially closed on Saturday, Sept 3, due to how many long-time customers came in to eat one last time.
A-Town Diner was founded by Dagnall’s late husband Steve in 2002, and she took over running the diner after his passing in September 2014. Upon finding out that the much-loved diner would be closing last Thursday, the Dagnall’s long-time friends, Robert and Melinda (Mimi) Davis, reached out to Jeanie with a proposition to take over the diner.
“I called Jeanie and asked her if she was in talks with anybody about the restaurant. She said no, so we sat down and talked, and even without having all the details hammered out, we knew it was time sensitive, so we started going forward with things,” said Robert Davis. “First contact we had to start this process was last Thursday, so it’s come a long way really quickly. We’re hitting each hurdle as it comes. We’re dealing with licensing, different governmental agencies, landlords, and vendors, everything. We’re making really good progress.”
The Davises are excited to extend the legacy that Steve built and that Jeanie continued. Meanwhile, Jeanie will be stepping down from ownership to put her focus on other parts of her life, including taking care of her mother.
“When Mimi and I heard that the diner was closing, it kind of broke our heart because it’s been this staple of the community,” added Robert.
While all of A-Town Diner’s former employees were terminated due to the restaurant’s closure, The Davises have kept most of the staff on while also cutting staff size due to new hours of operation.
“We are going to be forced to shorten hours of operation,” Robert said. “We’re not going to be able to provide dinner for a while, but everybody wants that to come back, and we’ll do that as soon as we can.”
A-Town Diner will be carrying on with Steve’s early-bird system, where they will be open at 6 a.m. for early risers, and the diner will be seating customers until 2 p.m., seven days a week.
“It was a totally unexpected situation, and I’m so thrilled to have them and their hearts wanting to keep Steve’s business alive,” stated Jeanie Dagnall.
The Davis family is excited to get through the transition period of changing hands so the doors can open to the public as soon as possible. Robert added that the menu and the classic diner vibes that the community has come to know and love are here to stay.
“We never thought in a million years that we’d ever be taking on something like this, but we’ve had a ton of support from the community,” he concluded.