Iconic neighborhood staple hit hard by pandemic, inflation, might be forced to close

PITTSBURGH — Don’s Diner has been a neighborhood staple for nearly three decades. Everyone knows it as a hidden gem nestled under the bridge.

“Like they said — best kept secret here,” Joe Antanis said. “Very homestyle cooking. Everything is good!”

“It’s a simple, classic breakfast spot,” Kayla Younger said. “Bacon, egg and cheese every morning. They do a break steak, good lunches.”

The diner is an iconic spot along Eckert Street and if it looks familiar, it’s because it’s been featured in 13 movies! But the owners tell Channel 11, it hasn’t been like what you see in movies. After 28 years, they might have to put their pride aside, and close their doors.

“We’ve been here 28 years,” Marcie Kemmler said. “I’ve seen even little kids grow up to bring their own kids here.”

Marcie said it started with COVID. They lost years’ worth of business during the pandemic, and when they could reopen for in-person dining, they were down to just three booths. Then inflation hit and the cost of food started skyrocketing.

“A case of eggs was $80! $80! I couldn’t believe it,” Kemmler said. “Now the bacon and the meat and even potatoes.”

Kemmler said the price of bacon has more than doubled and now it’s hard to keep the gas and electric on. She said they need some serious help to keep their doors open. She did something she never thought she would: she started a GoFundMe.

“Some people are like ‘Is it true?’ Yes, it’s real and true and I’ve tried everything I can any other way,” Marcie said.

For Kemmler, it’s about keeping her late mom’s dream alive. Her picture still hangs above one of the booths as a reminder that this is something the family built together.

“I just say take it one day at a time and if we make it through. It’s a blessing.”

If you’d like to help Don’s Diner, click here.

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