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Tiny diner adapts to COVID restrictions and finds a new way forward

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 6:57 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Ask any group of longtime residents about this tiny diner at the corner of S. Virginia Street and Arroyo Street and soon you will hear the stories.

A visit to Landrum’s, as it was known for decades, was a rite of local night life passage to be able to say you sat on one of its five stools and ordered a chili cheese omelette served up by a waitress/cook who wasn’t shy about delivering some comment on your condition on the tail end of a night on the town.

It operated this way for decades, then closed, reborn as Beefy’s. A few more seats were squeezed in, but few restaurants faced a bigger challenge with the arrival of the pandemic and its restrictions.

How could it adapt to those restrictions? I mean five stools! Well, they did adapt and they did so by moving outside.

Last spring when all indoor dining was shut down like many others, owner Roy Brennan realized the only route to survival was takeout. A walk-up window at the sidewalk was tried, but it didn’t work well. So, they started doing takeout out the back door. A tent was up by May and soon takeout clientele were sticking around and sitting down.

“And it just kind of grew,” says Brennan. “We ended up getting five tents and now we can seat a decent amount of people in there. We can actually seat more people in there than we could in our tiny little restaurant.”

Patio dining had come to the five-stool diner.

Takeout is still a big part of Brennan’s business, about 40 percent, but the heated tents have proved more than just a makeshift adaptation.

“We realized we’re on to something and we’re going to incorporate it into our business plan going forward.”

Although the recent easing of restrictions had little effect on his operation, he says it has had an encouraging effect on the dining public.

When allowed, Brennan says he’ll reopen the stools up front for those looking for a trip down memory lane they’ll find one thing hasn’t changed. The place is no longer open in the middle of the night. The menu still includes a chili cheese omelette.

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