It’s 8 a.m. on Saturday, and the newly opened Metro Diner is already more than three-quarters full.
“Chicken and waffles walkin’ in!” General Manager Chris Wade calls to the cooks busily preparing gourmet breakfast specials, as the diner’s small waiting area begins to fill up with local residents eager to try Sawgrass Village’s newest restaurant. Located at 340 Front St., #700, the Metro Diner is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
“Runners to the window, please!”
A longtime Jacksonville tradition – with eight locations in the First Coast area – Metro Diner has won numerous awards for such inventive breakfast fare as Yo Hala on the Square – challah bread stuffed with bananas, brown sugar, cream cheese and fruit compote – pound cake French Toast, huevos rancheros and a wide variety of omelets and eggs benedicts, including the “Surf and Turf” benedict featuring a homemade crab cake and ribeye steak.
Its lunch and dinner menu, meanwhile, includes a selection of soups, salads, sandwiches and diner staples such as meatloaf, which garnered rave reviews from celebrity chef Guy Fieri when the diner was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”
General Manager Wade said business has been booming at the Ponte Vedra location ever since its soft opening June 3-4, when the restaurant donated proceeds to local charities.
“We raised nearly $11,000 – the most we’ve ever raised from an opening fundraiser,” said Wade, who recently returned from Indianapolis, Metro Diner’s first out-of-state location. New locations are also set to open in North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
In addition to the chicken and waffles, he noted, the diner’s homemade corned beef hash and Charleston shrimp and grits have proven particularly popular with Ponte Vedra patrons.
Wade attributes the diner’s strong opening in part to the fact that the Sawgrass Village location is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“Our Jacksonville Beach location isn’t open for dinner,” Wade said, “so we’ve been getting a lot of business from that.”
Patrons are also allowed to bring their own alcohol to the diner.
“We’ve been busy since we opened,” he said. “We’ve been getting a lot of people from Nocatee, Ponte Vedra Beach… People say, ‘We’ve been waiting for a place like this here.’ It’s just been perfect.”