BY CARISSA SITKI
The Open Door Diner received the Business Spotlight for the month of February from the Altamont Chamber of Commerce. The Diner has been in Altamont for 10 years, and is owned by James and Vennia Petty. The Beecher City couple opened the restaurant on their 25th wedding anniversary.
Vennia drove past the little coffee shop, realizing it was for rent, walked in to get more information. “I just thought it was so cute, I drove around the block, parked, and then went inside to inquire about it. The owner gave me an interview, but he told me that they’d already interviewed several others, so we were pretty far down the list,” said Vennia. She then called James, after the interview, and said, “Guess what I just did?” James told her he was interested in opening a restaurant, too.
According to Vennia, they went back and talked to the owner again and his wife loved them. They called and offered them the restaurant several days later. The Pettys had prior summer plans so they opened the restaurant several months later.
“Altamont has been so supportive of our business, it’s humbling,” said Vennia, “This is such a great community to be a part of.” According to Vennia, the restaurant received an outpouring of support in the early days and received a lot of “blessings” in the form of donated items, that’s why the tables and chairs are mismatched. “We called it the Open Door because God opened the door for us to run the restaurant,” said Vennia.
The Petty family have always loved to cook and the diner’s dishes mostly consist of “secret family recipes,” each one with a story, from Slumgully to Piggy Tots. Vennia said she got her experience preparing large quantities of food by cooking at church camps over the years.
The Open Door Diner currently has 10 employees, most of whom are cross-trained to work different positions throughout the restaurant.
Employees, Ariel Followell and Cassie Heynen, said their favorite part of working at the Open Door Diner is that the atmosphere is close-knit . “We’re like a family here,” said Followell.
“Everyone knows each other on a first-name basis,” added Heyen, “Most of the time, we don’t even need to put last names on the order tickets.”
Last year was difficult for many small businesses, especially restaurants, but according to Vennia, Open Door used it as an opportunity to grow and learn and they haven’t lost any business over it. “We implemented curbside and delivery, and learned to work more efficiently,” she said.
Additionally, the Open Door added an outdoor seating area last summer to accommodate their customers amid COVID-19 restrictions. The diner also served meals once a week to medical staff and essential employees in Altamont and received an support and donations from the community in that endeavor, according to Vennia.
Vennia said their main goal as a business is to continue to grow and serve the Altamont area. “Thank you to Altamont for being such a great community, we are so blessed to be here,” she said.
More information about the Open Door Diner can be found online at www.facebook.com/opendoor.diner or they can be reached by phone at (618)267-8499.