For the last century, the Montclair Diner has provided customers with their morning coffee, midday lunch, or a quick stop for dinner before heading home after work. On Saturday, June 24, the diner celebrated its 100th anniversary with a carnival-themed party for the community that has supported the restaurant throughout the years.
Those who attended the community affair were able to take part in face painting, various games and dancing to a DJ along Valley Road.
In 2019, Eliot R. Mosby, originally from Chicago, purchased the restaurant, located at 613 Valley Road, from its previous owner, Gus Makris (it opened in 1923 as Louvis Char-Broil). For Mosby, the diner reminded him of childhood and home. Since taking over the diner, Mosby has made it a point to keep its authenticity while adding a Chicago flavor through dishes like chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits or “Yummy French Toast.”
Mosby said Montclairians have always shown immense support and love for the diner, even when they couldn’t dine in because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, the community nominated the diner to receive a $50,000 grant from Chase because of the work they’ve done to support frontline workers.
“The community has always supported us and it’s great that we were able to still retain the same staff from before,” Mosby said.
Waitresses, like Angela Pakalidou and Maud McIver, are just a few examples of the staff that view the patrons of the diner like family.
When Kacy Fraser walked into the diner Friday morning, she was immediately greeted with a warm smile and a “How’s your son?” from McIver. Fraser began eating at the diner two years ago and makes it a point to visit twice a week. Her favorite things about the diner are the waitresses, who she says are always friendly, and the pancakes. Fraser also appreciates that the diner is a black-owned business.
Lynda Edgeson, chief of staff and sister of Mosby, said, “When you come in and you see a black-owned business thriving and successful with a diverse customer base and a diverse staff, I think that that is just something that we take to heart and it makes us go even harder.”
Before becoming chief of staff of the diner, Edgeson was a teacher in Texas, which she said is beneficial to helping her organize the staff and events, like the 100th anniversary.
“I love working with customers, you develop those relationships with them,” Edgeson said. “We have one family that comes every single Sunday to the point where we found out when her daughter was pregnant and now the baby is going to be 1 in August.”
Edgeson said being at the diner reminds her of how she built relationships with her students’ families.
“I’ve also built relationships here in the community and I absolutely adore that,” she said.
Throughout the years the diner has become a safe haven for relationships to thrive. Joy Kay and her friend Stacey Brooks have met at the diner every month since 2011.
“When we first came, Gus was the owner and he was wonderful,” Kay said. “We always came here if we are feeling kind of blue, spirits are always lifted here. And then since Elliot took over, the feeling is the same.”
Brooks said the diner was a tradition for her and Kay.
“It’s been a great, comfortable environment. We’ve been able to have really deep conversations and just infuse our connection with sisterhood,” Kay said.
Both Mosby and Edgeson were excited to celebrate the diner’s 100-year anniversary and hope that the diner will continue for 100 more years.
“I fell in love with the community,” Mosby said.