After a two-year hiatus, the newly refurbished 1906 railroad car known as Knight’s Diner is open for business under a new owner and new menu.
Customers sat at the bar counter and new booths on Wednesday, which was opening day for the diner, to enjoy eggs, bacon, burgers and plenty more from owner Doug Gariepy’s menu.
“I’ve been very emotional the last couple days that so much pressure is on me to live up to the expectation of a lot of customers that grew up coming here,” Gariepy said. “And Vicki Green did such an amazing job that I got some very big shoes to fill.”
The diner closed in July 2019, then Gariepy, who owned and operated Zip’s Drive-In in Colville for eight years before selling it, purchased it from Green.
Gariepy, 57, said Green “was one of the hardest workers you’ll see” and was known for her hashbrowns and pies made from scratch. She wore blue overalls and sang to customers, too.
Gariepy said he serves a couple items from Green’s menu, but it will otherwise be different, including with more breakfast options.
“I couldn’t do what Vicki was doing,” he said. “I had to make it my own, and I’m hoping that I don’t upset some people by some of the changes I have made.”
Some of those additions include The Market Street, which features two large eggs, four strips of hickory-smoked bacon or two sausage links, hashbrowns and toast.
The Baylian Burger is named after Gariepy’s oldest son. It is a fresh ground beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomato, and served with fries.
The P.G. 13 Bacon side order is named after his son Pilot Gariepy, age 13.
“The bacon is the best,” said Shaniece Picard, who ate with her mother Wednesday.
Picard ordered the Knights Breakfast, which comes with two large eggs, six Silver Dollar pancakes and two strips of P.G. 13 Bacon.
“We’re definitely coming back, because we want to try the BLT sandwiches,” said Melanie Shears, Picard’s mother.
Zachary Light enjoyed a meal with his girlfriend, Samantha Stanley, and their 3-year-old daughter.
Light said his parents took him to Knight’s Diner as far back to when he was around 3.
“It’s fantastic,” said Light, who ordered The Market Street.
Stanley said the diner is just up the street from her house.
“When we found out that it was open, we came right here to have some brunch,” said Stanley, who enjoyed the Baylian Burger with “really good” fries, as she put it.
One of the biggest differences customers will notice is the new booths, Gariepy said. A counter seating 23 people previously ran down much of the car, but Gariepy had part of the counter removed to make room for the family-friendly booths.
Pat Jeppesen, owner of Chris & Pat Inc., said it was difficult for a family of three or four to find open seats next to each other at the counter.
“The booths provide a better seating configuration,” Jeppesen said.
Jeppesen and his crew remodeled the entire diner.
“There’s no surface in here that wasn’t touched, including the light fixtures,” he said.
Jeppesen said he first restored the diner in 1982 when it was on Division Street and Jackson Avenue in Spokane. Jeppesen owned the diner with Green at the time.
Another addition customers will notice is a 1908 Northern Pacific Railroad Company caboose to house the food prep area.
The rail car that houses Knight’s Diner is on the Spokane Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1906 and served the Northern Pacific Railroad as car number 988 on the “Yellowstone Park Line.”
Jack Knight, a former headwaiter at the Davenport Hotel, purchased it for $600 in 1949 and hired Beadmore Transfer to move the rail car to Division and Jackson. After renovations, he opened Knight’s Diner in 1949.
Knight operated the diner for five years. Ownership of the diner changed hands several times before Green purchased it in 1982 and moved the rail car to its current location in the early 1990s.
The diner, located on 2909 N. Market St., is open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day.
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