Fins, feathers, and new wheels for 59-year-old Keith’s Diner
Posted on July 08, 2022 | By Alexander Chafe | 3 Comments
If you’ve visited ‘da Goulds in Newfoundland, you’ve likely had a ‘feed’ of Keith’s. The roadside diner has been around for over 50 years, serving fish and chips, fries, dressing and gravy and other comfort food. Still owned and operated by the Ward family after three generations, the business is now on wheels (literally).
Originally named Betty’s Drive-In, Reg and Betty Ward opened the family business in 1963 on the Main Road of the Goulds, N.L. With no dine-in seating, customers would drive to the parking lot and wait for a flash of lights to know when their order was ready at the pick-up window.
Reg and Betty’s son Keith started working for the family business at a young age with the responsibility of peeling potatoes—by hand, earning 50 cents for each bucket. In 1989, Keith took over the business and renamed it Keith’s Diner.
Over the years, dine-in seating was added to the restaurant and flashing lights were replaced with phone calls for order notifications. However, the menu has largely remained the same. Mallory Ward, current owner and operator (and Keith’s daughter), speaks of the importance of maintaining consistency: “the recipes we use today are the same that were used in the ‘60s. So, a customer’s wings, chips, dressing and gravy taste the same today as they did years ago.”
In January of 2021, Keith’s Diner closed temporarily due to a kitchen fire. While this lasted longer than anticipated, it became an opportunity to make much-needed upgrades to meet demand. Extra phone lines and delivery services were added, their dine-in and take-out spaces were separated, and their kitchen was expanded to allow for more prep and freezer space. The new space opened later that year in September.
Around the same time, online ordering and reservations were added to their website. Mallory mentioned that this was also a long-anticipated change, which occurred in response to customer feedback on social media. “We’re big on listening to our customers. We love to hear the positive, of course, but the negative is just as important so we can find ways to learn and grow.”
Another exciting new venture for Keith’s Diner is their food truck that opened on Canada Day weekend this year. With Come Home Year on the horizon, the mobile restaurant will help Keith’s bring their food to customers and attend events. Featuring new menu items, the truck will be mobile on weekends and stationed in Mount Pearl during the week.
With their recent expansions, the business has also started to expand into catering.
Though there have been some changes, Keith’s Diner continues to operate from the same spot off the main road in the Goulds since 1963.
Thankful to have doubled staff since reopening, Mallory credits the team at Keith’s for the restaurant’s success: “Our staff are like family. Some are related by blood and other staff have been working at the restaurant for as long as I’ve been alive. We wouldn’t be able to do it without such an awesome team.”
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3 responses to “Fins, feathers, and new wheels for 59-year-old Keith’s Diner”
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Great article, I know where I am going for supper tonight!
We were just there on Thursday ,friends home from Nova Scotia ,we had to take them there for a feed and we certainly were not disappointed,Yummy Yummy.
Thanks we’ll be back as per usual.
Given that this place opened coinciding with the start of my 24 years living in St. John’s, I can’t believe I didn’t discover it until a visit back home in May of this year. Great F&C!