By Tina Tidmore
Kevin Lather owns the building behind the Chalkville Mountain Road Chevron where other restaurants have been, including Catfish Cabin. Thursday, he and two other partners will open their own restaurant at that location, The Southern Diner.
Lather also owns Homewood Diner, which has been recognized by The City Scene, Urban Spoon and the Dining Diva.
Michael Skaran will be the general manager. He formerly worked at his family’s business, Sweet Tea Restaurant, and said he was attracted to running this restaurant because “this is a concept with growth potential.”
“I wanted to spread my wings a bit,” Skaran said. “I needed a break from the confines of a Greek family restaurant.” However, he is bringing the core philosophies and strategies for success that he learned from his family’s business.
Skaran has already learned about the community and even noted the strong rivalry between the Hewitt-Trussville Huskies and the Clay-Chalkville Cougars.
“This is an opportunity to set a footprint in a close-knit community,” he said.
Skaran said that they have opened up the dining room area in the building to accommodate larger groups, such as little league parties.
The diner’s “meat and three” style of food will have a variety, so people will not get tired of it, he said.
“Consistency is the key,” Skaran said. “The portions are generous, but we don’t want you to feel guilty.”
The Southern Diner will use more turkey and chicken broths and fats in the cooking instead of bacon fats and shortening. Skaran said it will be healthier and have a smoky flavor.
“You won’t even know the difference,” he said. “It will remind you of grandma’s cooking.”
Skaran said he is not concerned with the past restaurants that have not survived in that location. He said he thinks it wasn’t the location, but the management.
When the restaurant is good, Skaran said people will come to it
. He said that is the case with Niki’s Restaurant in downtown Birmingham and Lloyd’s Restaurant on Highway 280.
“I don’t believe in haunted buildings,” Skaran said. “Many of them relied on location; we will rely on word of mouth.”
The Southern Diner opens Thursday in Trussville.
Credit: Photo by Tina Tidmore