Just one month ago, the interior of Daiva’s Diner on Ridge Avenue was nothing but a vacant space with clumps of dust and construction equipment scattered about. Now, colorful booths and tables fill the room, accented by plants, window lighting and – most importantly – customers.
Daiva Pilinkaite officially opened her diner in the former Ridge Diner spot on Ridge Avenue on April 13. She used to manage Domino Diner, before it burned down, and has since developed a following among locals.
Although the diner has been open for nearly a week, Pilinkaite said there’s much more work to be done. Her to-do list includes building a shed for extra storage, planting flowers outside, sprucing up the parking lot, adding seating to the outside deck and incorporating some welcoming flare with paintings and vases.
When Pilinkaite moved to Philadelphia, she found a community in diners, Pilinkaite said that although she owns the diner, she’s not the boss.
“I do work for people, you know, my customers. I care for them,” she said. “My goal is to make this place for employees, and for the customers to be happy.”
With that goal in mind, Pilinkaite has been working diligently at perfecting her diner—and usually only sleeps a couple of hours a night.
“There [are] still gaps to fill in,” she said. “I see the gaps and I’m telling the people, ‘just give me two more weeks and everything will be fine.”‘
So far, it seems as though her hard work has paid off. Pilinkaite said the diner already has its fair share of regulars.
“Some people come like five times a day,” she said. “For a cup of coffee, for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner and sometimes just for dessert.”
Ray Charette quickly became one of those customers.
He has been following Pilinkaite since she worked at Domino Diner. The reason, he said, is because he respects her and thinks she runs a quality establishment.
“She works very hard, she always kept a clean diner, she always made sure that the customer came first,” he said. “How else can you go wrong?”
Charette said since the diner opened, he’s tried almost everything on the menu and has been there almost every day—sometimes multiple times a day.
Sharon Dickison, a hostess at the diner, said that she’s heard similar sentiments from other customers.
“There’s so many people that come in and go ‘oh this is Daiva’s spot and she worked at Domino Diner,'” she said. “Everybody seems to love her, even if they don’t know her.”
Daiva’s Diner, located at 6750 Ridge Avenue, is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.