A restaurant that once was featured on the hit Food Network road show, “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” is coming to Columbus.
Metro Diner, a growing restaurant chain founded in Jacksonville, Fla., but now based in Tampa, confirmed Friday it is planning to open by mid-December at The Landings shopping center at 5524 Whitesville Road. That’s the address for the Fuddrucker’s hamburger eatery that closed its doors last October.
“Columbus currently is scheduled for Dec. 12,” said Crafton Bryant, Metro Diner’s director of marketing. “There’s always the possibility of the date having some flexibility (due to construction build-out). But that is our target date as of right now.”
Metro Diner is known for a menu that Bryant calls “comfort food with flair.” Dinner and lunch menu entrees include a meatloaf plate, chicken pot pie, metro pot roast, fried chicken and waffle, Charleston shrimp and grits, and fish and chips plate. There are nearly two dozen types of burgers and sandwiches, salads, soups and sides, as well as a menu for kids.
The breakfast menu also has fried chicken and waffle on it, along with breakfast pie, biscuits and sausage gravy, steak and eggs, huevos rancheros, omelettes, various types of eggs benedict, griddle waffles, breakfast sandwiches and a category called “eggs galore.”
“We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner all day, everyday,” Bryant said. “We’ve got these dishes that kind of bring you back to your childhood, the meatloaf, the pot pie, that are these really classic comfort food dishes. But then we have fried chicken and waffles. There’s fresh meat and strawberry butter. We serve the fried chicken with sweet and spicy syrup. So it’s a very hearty portions, delicious food, all made from scratch.”
Metro diner’s main menu is companywide, Bryant said, although there are localized and regional specials offered each week.
Metro diner dates to 1992, when it became a breakfast hub for residents in the Jacksonville, Fla., area. Chef Mark Davoli and his family, including father John Sr. and brother John Jr., acquired Metro Diner in 2000 and shook up the menu a bit. It became an even bigger hit, enough so that in 2010 “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” host Guy Fieri brought his “off the hook” road show to Metro Diner. Sales soared as they usually do at eateries after appearing on the program, with television tourists flocking to sample the fare as well.
Since then, Metro Diner has been growing steadily and adding new locations. It opened in Macon, Ga., in late July and just opened in Birmingham, Ala., this week, reportedly in a former Steak and Shake building. The restaurant chain’s website lists 36 locations in nine states thus far, with six more listed as “coming soon.”
“We’ve got quite a few opening between now and when this (Columbus) location will open,” Bryan said. “So, yeah, we are growing. We’re bringing this incredible food to different markets across the country. Our focus is on each location and making sure we’re bringing high-quality food to each of the markets that we’re opening within.”