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    If you’ve followed food news in Louisville over the past year or so, you’ve heard Dustin Staggers’ name. From his position as executive chef at 60 West, he revamped the Monkey Wrench’s menu and image, and moved on to open first Roux then Rumplings in the Highlands. 2015 saw his 10 Tables venture pay off big time, with more than a thousand people still on the waiting list for one of the ten tables he (and chefs Eric Morris, of Loop 22, and Griffin Paulin, of Rumplings) sell every Monday night. One could call his rise through the ranks exemplary of the great American dream.
     


    In the spirit of rising, Staggers is opening yet another concept: America. The Diner. He is characteristically bold about the venture. “It’s going to be so gaudy and American it’s going to be incredible,” he says. “I’ve wanted to open up a diner for a long time, honestly.  No matter how what you started cooking or how fancy your cooking skills have become or how refined you think you are, there’s something simple and delicious about a diner.”

    America. The Diner. will be located at 814 Cherokee Road, a prime location close to the juncture of Cherokee, Bardstown and Broadway. Tattoo artist Scot Winskye (who, along with his wife Taran, is also partnering with Staggers in America. The Diner. along with Kyle Staggers) will assist in decoration, says Staggers. “Aesthetically it’s going to be kind of a throwback, like red-white-and-blue booths, Scot Winsky’s coming in and painting the whole restaurant. It’s going to be extra especially American. Like, Harleys and bald eagles and Statues of Liberty. It’s going to look like American excess.” Winskye also did the murals at Roux, and many of Staggers’ tattoos.

     
    As usual, Staggers has big plans for this new venture. America. The Diner. will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and offer 24/7 military discounts. A wall for veterans to sign is planned, as well as a portion of the space dedicated to old-school arcade games, air hockey, and a foosball table. “We’re going to do fun, funky stuff like a big fat kid hamburger challenge. If you win, if you eat the whole thing, you get your picture on the wall holding an American flag, and if you lose, you have to choose between a French flag and a Canadian flag to hold up on the loser’s wall!” Staggers laughs.


    The opening of America. The Diner. is tentatively planned for May, but says Staggers, “We have to be open by the second week of June because we’re throwin’ down for July 4th. Please believe it.” He’ll continue in his role as Executive Chef at Roux and be the “Executive Chef and regular old badass,” at America. The Diner.
     
    So what can you expect from the menu at America. The Diner.? “We’re not trying to make it cute,” Staggers assures me. “We’re just getting good product and making American food what it should be. Plenty of people grew up eating that. I’m excited about some of the more simple things on the menu, stuff I like to make at home, like a really good BLT that doesn’t cost like $15 for no reason whatsoever. That’s the beauty of a diner. You can throw a dart at the menu and find something you’d like to eat.” America. The Diner. will also feature some of Dara Staggers' desserts.


     


    Price point will be low: the most expensive thing currently planned for the menu (the prime rib blue plate special) is a whopping $16, with plenty of $5 - $12 options. Staggers is hoping the affordable food, along with the location, will encourage families to bring their children to America. The Diner. “Lots of young families live in Germantown. There’s not that many places in town you can take your kids that isn’t a chain restaurant or an ice cream shop. This place is going to be good for kids. Cereal’s on the menu. Monkey bread is on the menu.” The great American classics will be present too: hamburgers like the GW, with pimento cheese, fried onion rings, habanero BBQ and fire-roasted habanero aioli; a build-your-own hot dog option, fried baskets of Gulf shrimp and Florida catfish, cheese curds, and matzo ball soup. Staggers also says this menu will be a place to bring back his much-beloved cast iron skillet fried chicken, which used to be served at the Monkey Wrench. 


    Don’t be mistaken though, America. The Diner. will have plenty of adult options, including a (planned) full bar program.  Alcoholic shakes and floats are in the works, as well as a tentative idea to bottle classic cocktails and carbonate them.
     
    Staggers believes that America. The Diner. will have mass appeal. “It’s just people food. That’s the beauty of a diner. That’s the beauty of the demographic it can encompass. It doesn’t eliminate anybody. We’re going to appeal to the older guy in the Highlands who wants to get out of the house, read his paper and drink a cup of coffee and not have anybody bother him. We’re going to appeal to the couples who can’t ever make a decision on where they want to go out to eat. We’re going to appeal to the people on the way downtown to work getting fresh bagels from New York three times a week. This place could be a monster. I can feel it.”

    Images courtesy of Dustin Staggers, Google EarthLouisville Magazine and Staggeringly Delicious.

    Elizabeth Myers's picture

    About Elizabeth Myers

    Big fan of bacon and bourbon, deep fried anything, sweet tea and sweet nothings.

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