After a year of extensive renovations on a century-old building, the Dunlop Street Diner is open and breathing new life in a very old space in downtown Barrie.
And the diner is serving breakfast and lunch including signature eggs benedict, homemade waffles topped with real whipped cream and fresh fruit and cheddar and chive perogies - just to name a few items.
Owners Steve Ricalis and Don Kellett welcomed guests on Monday to their new restaurant beside Donaleigh's Irish Public House, their already established and successful eatery on Dunlop Street East.
"The success of Donaleigh's brings added pressure. It was a bit nerve-wracking on that end," said Ricalis after a very busy and hectic opening day.
"I think we felt more pressure because of our success at Donaleigh's and our reputation for our food - to make sure we were putting out still an A plus product. That was the most important thing for us was to duplicate our success at Donaleigh's," said Kellett.
The business partners bought the space which housed an old but iconic and beloved restaurant and convenience store called the Player's Diner.
It took a year of renovations to bring the historic but neglected space up to modern building codes.
"There's been a lot of growing pains wth the renovations. Just trying to bring this 150 building- nobody has touched for 40 years - so bringing that up to today's codes and standards was the biggest challenge. And that's why it's taken so long," said Ricalis, who now has many stories about the history uncovered as crews took the space down to studs.
"This used to be a cigar shop at one time. We're talking 60 years ago. Under the drop ceiling there were huge air carriers running through here which we had to cut down. You could still smell the smoke. It was crazy."
The owners and staff arrived for opening day at 5:30 a.m. and for Ricalis, the Dunlop Street Diner is like having a new baby.
And he's like a proud parent.
"Very happy that we opened up in downtown Barrie and I think it's something this part of Barrie needs," Ricalis said.
In addition to ensuring the diner serves up the best in breakfast and lunch, Kellett says they are most proud to be employing more than 100 people between their two restaurants.
And of course, it's fun.
"Steve and I, we enjoy opening restaurants," said Kellett.
The Dunlop Street Diner is located at 20 Dunlop Street East and is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week.