Everyone working at The Hartland Diner is Local. Everything we do is Local. Most of our food is Local. All our food is fresh, from scratch/homemade, cooked to order for YOU. We are not cutting any corners. We may be small, we may be local, we may be in a tiny town in a small state, but we are Mighty. Great things can happen in even the smallest of spaces.
We have two Goals at The Hartland Diner: (1) to create, nurture and protect an ethical, safe, empowered, inclusive workplace; (b) produce fresh, delicious, REAL food served with great, positive energy in a fun and HAPPY place.
We have one Message: Every one of us has some burden(s) we are carrying. We want you all to able to lay those burdens down, even for a short time, here at The Diner. That is what we ALL can do, for each other, in this life: don’t add to someone else’s burdens, help them lay those burdens down, even if it’s just long enough to eat a few eggs and drink some good, bottomless coffee…
Running a small, independent food service business is HARD. Doing it in a way that empowers your employees AND your community AND your guests is even harder. I pay my people Fair Wages, I pay “higher prices” to support as many other local businesses as I can. I ALWAYS choose local, independent businesses first. I’m not trying to be “cheap.” I am trying to be The Best: The Best Diner Food; The Best Diner Experience; The Best Place To Work. I feel pretty good about how we’re doing…
I am dedicated to Justice, in every sense of that word and use The Hartland Diner to promote Social Justice, Racial Justice, Gender Justice. I believe we ALL live together in Community, not just the community of Hartland or Vermont or New England. We all live together in this Great American Community and it is only as good as each of us works to make it. My business is tiny, my platform is small, but I believe my message is mighty and my example is powerful.
In this time of Covid I have worked as hard as I am able to keep this diner alive (and I can work pretty darn hard…). When Lockdown happened I was thankful The Diner was allowed to remain open as an “essential business.” But Diners are not really built for “take out.” Diners are built for people sitting next to each other and connecting, talking, catching up, meeting new people, playing Yahtzee together for 3 hours every morning at the counter. It was a shock to close my doors, lay off all my employees and come in alone every day to see if I could run a “take out only Diner.” For the first month I did not pay myself and I used that money to support others. But I have a house full of blood family and family-by-choice and furred and feathered “family” and I had to pay myself enough to feed them. We all thought lockdown would be 3 months and then “back to normal.” I thought I could just gut it out and my landlord did me the GREAT kindness of reducing my rent by over 50%. I don’t think I could have done it without that. But we’re in Month 8 now and he can’t keep carrying ne because no one is carrying him and it’s getting cold out and this is the time of year where you’ve got all your extra “winter costs” coming on.
The Hartland Diner has had GREAT support all along. But there is only so much business we can do in a Pandemic. Since the Governor has allowed us to go to 50% capacity, socially distanced, for Dine In, we can seat 3 of our booths and we do that Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays when I can afford to pay someone to come help waitress and take orders. The rest of the days I work alone: answering the phone, taking orders, taking payment, cooking the food, running orders out to people AND making everything we need here, while also doing all the dishes, paperwork, bills, etc etc etc. There is not enough business weekdays to pay someone else to be here with me, but I need to be here to make Corned Beef Hash and Sausage Gravy and bake pies and prep all the veggies and make our homemade salsa and dressings and now I’m making huge batches of soup to sell frozen in pints and quarts.
Here in Vermont the economy is made up, in large part, by money spent by visitors to our state. In “usual” times all of us in the “hospitality” business would be FLAT OUT from June thru October. But in times of a Global Pandemic that is just not possible. And so I have set up this GoFundMe page. There is no “assistance” coming from anyone in DC for teeny, tiny little operations like The Hartland Diner. I’ve run this business with no debt for almost 8 years now. I’ve put in my own money when I had to. I carry no “terms” with my suppliers and pay for all my orders when they are delivered. And that’s what I’ve been doing since March because I figure if I can keep a “trickle” of money coming in I can also keep a trickle going out to other local businesses that are suffering along with me.
So! If you value small, local independent businesses who support OTHER small, local, independent businesses and you want to support community and the intricate network here in Vermont of us all pulling for and with each other and you wish you could BE HERE in The Hartland Diner to eat and you HOPE to be back in here when we all come out the other side of this Pandemic I ask that you donate a little something to keeping this Little Diner Project afloat. Please only give what you comfortably can. If you can only give a very little please consider giving that little to a cause that might actually be more important. We have a lot of work to do together as Americans.
But if you can give and want to give I PLEDGE to you that any money raised here will go to pay The Hartland Diner’s rent (which supports an entire network of other Vermonters and Vermont businesses) and our Meals and Room Tax “backlog”…and I PLEDGE that I will continue to Pay It Forward every, single day I wake up in the morning. I will continue to use The Hartland Diner to create and support and encourage community and justice and inclusion and this diner will continue to be a safe space for everyone to be treated with respect and kindness and where you can bring your burdens because I will help you lift them up and carry them for you.
THANK YOU for “being” here and participating in ALL that The Hartland Diner is.