Pauls Valley Democrat
All manner of companies either thrive or break under the pressure of trying to establish brand loyalty with their customer base.
Pauls Valley is no stranger to this formula with its own examples of homegrown staples where residents regularly incorporate them into their daily schedules, but a true test of that dedication came earlier this year in the form of the Happy Days Diner.
It was back on Jan. 26 when an early morning fire in the heating unit on the roof of the restaurant resulted in enough damage to close it down for several months.
Not a simple cleanup and reopen job, owner Reza Ghanaati decided to use the time to not only take care of what was mostly smoke damage throughout as well as replacing the damaged roof, but a complete remodel with said established fans in mind. It has paid off tenfold since they officially greeted customers again for the first time July 1 and the reaction is beyond even what he imagined.
“I’ve never seen so many people shake hands and thank me for being open,” Ghanaati, noting how the fire occurred in the early morning hours about 2 a.m. and that fortunately no one was inside.
“I really want to thank Pauls Valley for the tremendous support.”
The improvements also include a more maroon shade of paint on the exterior, new awnings on the patio as well as other areas, a redone interior and all still keeping with the ‘50s diner feel that has made it an ideal group/family meeting place in the past, said Ghanaati. The menu hasn’t changed too much, but has been extended to include steak, cod and shrimp.
“I wanted to make sure we had the same atmosphere,” said Ghanaati, adding how it has been packed for the major meals like lunch and supper every day with hungry patrons. “There are people coming back who haven’t been here in years.”
Ghanaati has also been pleased to see several of his employees who worked there before the fire come back, including Darlene Smith, who comes in part time and is passing on her knowledge of her famous pies to a new employee. Another one of those new employees, Erica Peacock, is a part of adding a flair of entertainment to the restaurant be it inside with her guitar at the end of the week or a part of developing plans for shows on the patio later on.
“I had 10 of my old employees come back,” said Ghanaati, who pointed out how the mood is even more upbeat than when it was open before. “I’m very grateful they took the time to come back… you don’t see anyone without a smile working here.”
Ghanaati has even got the Pauls Valley Fire Department in mind to thank for their response and helping save the structure. Along with treating them to meals, he hopes to soon put together a fundraiser that will benefit some of their needs as a part of a grand opening before the summer is over.
“Happy Days is in the blood, the culture of Pauls Valley,” Ghanaati. “This restaurant will stay open… It should be an honor for us to serve them.”
The restaurant is open from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.