Americana diner Meander's Kitchen may be one of the latest additions to White Center's burgeoning 16th Ave business strip, but the new locale, which is much larger than its former home in West Seattle (a converted Chinese restaurant), has experienced such a surge of business that owner Miranda Krone, beloved by regulars for her sassy comebacks and familiar presence behind the griddle, says it's lost something.
Though the expansion was made in an effort to better serve her regulars, Krone now laments the uniqueness of the old location. "There's a lack of intimacy now," she says.
Feeling so, the restaurateur took to Facebook yesterday to register her emotions and posted a review of business so far at the new venture. In it, Krone expresses a deep passion for her work, tender feelings about her patrons, and a straightforward anxiety about things to come.
The post--which you can read here on Meander's Facebook page--describes another possible move and big changes to the menu: "Starting Saturday, the menu is whatever I say it is, based on what I found at the market, based on how I feel (maple bacon donuts, anyone?), and what I want to tell you about the world," Krone writes.
While such posts are common among friends on Facebook, in restaurant culture, where proprietary information, recipes, and business plans tend to be doled out to the public like so much gold, Krone's frankness is an unconventional move, one that hit the business owner with a wave of support.
"I'm a little boggled," Krone says. "It's had an unprecedented reach. It hit some kind of nerve."
Ma'Chell Duma La Vassar, Voracious food blogger and West Seattle resident who recently visited the new spot and contributed this glowing review, likes Krone's comments and welcomes the coming changes. "Miranda is awesome and I really feel like it [the post] speaks to the authenticity of that place. I'm cool with menu changes if it means turn around times are a little quicker. It makes sense economically, too."
Of the 108 comments (and counting) the post has received so far, Sue Mariconda echoes the sentiment. "I love your spirit and individuality, Miranda, which is what kept me coming back. Well, that and the kick-ass food," she writes.
And Krone's kick-ass food--and passion for cooking it--has drawn crowds by word of mouth alone. The restaurant has no published phone number or website. "People are drawn to what we do here, to the honesty here," Krone says. "They're willing to eat at a place with duct tape on the walls."
"I've never wanted to have a 'normal' restaurant," she adds. "Sometimes when I'm cooking I'll hear a customer say something that will make me raise an eyebrow and will let them know I'm listening, that I care. But I always let them know they'll get things on my terms."
Those terms, she says, are very much up in the air, and connecting with her customers while juggling new financial commitments is a frustrating challenge. "We're in deep trouble right now," Krone says. "We're under capitalized and operating without a capital cushion. It's ridiculous."
The under funded venture is also what's preventing Krone from updating the dining area which was previously the rough and tumble Papa's Pub and still brandishes its worn floors and dingy bathrooms.
Krone is known for her catch phrase "I just want to make food!", though she admits her humble vision might miss its mark in White Center, at least for now.
"If this doesn't work? If running this place different than anywhere else is run falls on it's face? Don't be surprised," she reflects in the post. "And don't be surprised to see us again, somewhere else, and again, another place again. Good people love you, and they want to make you food. I love you, and I want to make you good food...on my terms."