The All American Diner in Kuttawa has remained closed since September 2019 and owner Jamie Daniel anticipates a January reopening.
He and his family and partners own a significant amount of the businesses and land in Kuttawa at U.S. 62 near the I-24 intersection. The mainstay in the area is The Oasis Southwest Grill.
In a previous iteration, the All American Diner was known as the Huddle House, but due to a two-year noncompete clause, the diner is at a standstill.
The Huddle House was established by the Daniel family in 2003 and operated for 15 years.
Daniel said a complete interior redesign is necessary. Flooring, restrooms, kitchen, seating, and other aspects of the Huddle House will be stripped before opening its doors.
“Whenever COVID hit we just pushed everything to the side and stopped working on it,” Daniel said.
He said patrons from Oasis and other customers continue to inquire about the diner’s status.
Daniel said the availability and supply logistics are other factors prolonging the reopening.
Other restaurant projects in Kentucky and Tennessee have become a priority for Daniel.
“As far as this county, there is just not a lot of people that are working age that work in these industries. We’re constantly battling to try to find staff,” Daniel said.
He said Marion, Princeton, Paducah, and Trigg County residents travel to Kuttawa to work.
He noted that Oasis sales have returned to 2019 figures. Despite a resurgence in dining, however, the nearby Wendy’s has not reopened its lobby. He said his staff there are unable to meet that need.
Daniel said he could probably hire 50 people to work at his establishments in Kuttawa, which includes the Oasis, Wendy’s, a liquor store, two gas stations, and two hotels.
The Daniel family possesses undeveloped land in the area but does not have plans to start projects until business and staffing stabilizes.
Daniel showed support for highway projects such as U.S. 641 and I-69 expansions. He said traffic will increase, therefore, bringing in more business.
“It should help people that are looking for jobs that are in our industry,” Daniel said.
He said the November shutdown devastated all of his businesses: “That really hurt. That was a dagger right before Christmas, for everybody. That was a tough one.”
Daniel is preparing for the end of pandemic unemployment benefits, scheduled to discontinue on Sept. 6.