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All About Community

Miss Florence Diner offers good food and a family of support

When  Georgianna Brunton bought Miss Florence Diner, she had no idea she would become a part of such a supportive community and family. However, the purchase has brought new family members in the form of neighboring business owners and customers.

“Life experiences are shared with my diner family,” said  Georgianna. “We go through all the same things.”

After leaving a corporate career, and doing various contract jobs and business development for local restaurants,  Georgianna saw a for-sale ad for the diner. Although intrigued, she didn’t immediately move on the idea. After 18 months of seeing the sale pop up, she felt like it might be kismet and decided to look into it.

“It can’t be that hard,”  Georgianna said she initially thought. It turned out to be harder than she ever imagined but also far more rewarding.

The diner needed a lot of updating and work and during the first six months of owning the diner, all the big-ticket items broke.  Georgianna poured time and money into building the business back up and had just started to rebuild the business when COVID-19 struck.  Georgianna had to lay off the whole staff except for two employees who helped her to run the “old gal,” as  Georgianna refers to her.

The diner has come out the other side with the community buying takeout, PPE loans, and tremendous financial support from Dave Portnoy at Barstool Sports.

“Without Dave, I honestly don’t feel like the diner would be what it is today,” said  Georgianna, who added that Dave raised significant amounts of money during the height of the pandemic and then distributed it to businesses. “I am so thankful to him and for thinking the diner was saveable.”

Georgianna is also grateful to the Florence business community. In the beginning, many business owners helped her when she knew next to nothing about owning a diner. Then they all helped each other as they all navigated the restrictions Covid brought. 

“During Covid, we all supported each other,” said  Georgianna. “To have that network and that brainstorming, it helped me to get to where I am today.”

Next-door neighbor, Jonathan Neumann, and Georgianna ​​focused on building a community spot for local dining outdoors when COVID was at its high point. 

“We still do to this day. We are like an extended family,” said Georgianna. “Together, we did it, but we couldn’t have separately.”

The same holds for the community of customers at the diner, from the senior citizens who don’t have a family to those starting their families who get engaged there and then come back to share that they’re expecting their first child. Customer photos take up one whole wall of the diner.

Georgianna has decided to take that family-like environment and support system one step further. She has teamed up with Highland Valley Elder Services to offer a large community resources board at the diner, where customers can find information about how to get food or information about Medicaid.

“I’m so grateful for the community support,” said  Georgianna. “From helping people make memories to thinking about the little things that at the moment don’t seem like anything, it gave purpose to what I was doing."

Georgianna also praises her staff, who look out for one another and have become like family. “They have this strong love for each other and really band together,” explained  Georgianna.

The diner opened in 1941 and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1999. Located at 99 Main St. in Florence, Miss Florence Diner is open daily for breakfast and lunch. For more information, visit www.IMissFlorenceDiner.com.

Life experiences are shared with my diner family. We go through all the same things.

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