Gaslight Diner Welcomes Community With Homegrown Hospitality
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
When Mac’s Dough House came on the market in October of 2018, Megan Boone and her ex-husband Anthony Lusiak decided to purchase the business. Lusiak studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and following high school Boone had gravitated towards the restaurant industry, having worked as a bartender, server and manager.
“It was probably not the smartest decision in the world to just jump right in like that,” Boone says. “The restaurant business is so hard.”
Little did they know how hard it was about to get. When COVID-19 first emerged, they transitioned to takeout only, but with a dozen pizza restaurants in Jeffersontown, they quickly realized that was not going to be sustainable for them in the long run since they primarily sold pizza as well as mac and cheese.
Prior to COVID-19, Boone and Lusiak, along with Boone’s husband Seth, had toyed with the idea of someday opening a restaurant that serves breakfast, since no such option existed in Jeff
ersontown. The pandemic provided them with their now-or-never moment as the dining room was closed, allowing them to still serve takeout pizza out of the kitchen while renovating the entire dining room. Even when the governor allowed restaurants to open at 50% capacity, they stuck with takeout to continue the renovations, then ultimately had to close everything from July through November in order to buy all new kitchen equipment and put the finishing touches on the dining room. When they were finally ready to open their doors as the Gaslight Diner, they were hesitant.
“The last thing we wanted to do was open and immediately get shut down again by the governor, but that’s what ended up happening,” says Boone, noting that they opened on a Tuesday and got shut down the following Friday due to rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. They reopened, however, in mid-December.
Located in the heart of the historical Gaslight Square in Jeffersontown, customers flock to the Gaslight Diner for food and fellowship. Boone maintains that it’s not uncommon for a guest to walk into the restaurant and stop at four tables to chat on their way to be seated.
“These are their neighborhood friends, or it’s the senior center down the street who has brought everyone down for breakfast and they all know one another, so it just feels like this big family community,” Boone says.
The Gaslight Diner kitchen staff makes fresh biscuits and gravy every morning, which are extremely popular since many places don’t make items from scratch.
“It’s definitely a labor of love as they are not quick to make,” Boone says. “Some weekends we run out of biscuits and have to tell customers to give us 20 minutes so we can mix up dough and bake more.”
Their breakfast bowls (fiesta, country, farmhouse and veggie) are also popular, and include seasoned home fries topped with sausage, bacon, peppers, onions, mushrooms, eggs and shredded cheese.
“They are amazing,” Boone says.
They also make an in-house Gaslight Diner sauce that goes on all of their burgers. People love it so much that they often request it as a side for their French fries or home fries.
If you are within a five-mile radius of the restaurant, you can check in and be added to their wait list so you have a better idea of when your table will be ready.
“We get really busy on the weekends where it’s not uncommon to have a 45-minute wait,” Boone says. “It sure beats waiting in the car.”
Boone and Lusiak have four children together – Katelyn, 12, Natalie, 11, Charlotte, 7, and Olivia, 5 – who split their time between the homes but share time at the restaurant.
“If Olivia is in the restaurant, everybody knows it,” Boone says. “She’ll dance down the aisle, table to table, greeting everybody.”
Boone admits that her relationship with her husband and ex-husband wasn’t something that customers understood initially.
“They weren’t really sure what the dynamic was, I think,” Boone says.
It’s pretty simple – they all just have a great business partnership.
“One of the three of us is always in the building,” Boone says. “Either Anthony has the kids so Seth and I are working, or Seth and Anthony are working and I’m with the kids. We’ve been able to build a business together – the three of us.”
Though they originally hoped to be open for dinner as well as breakfast and lunch, during the pandemic staffing has been challenging. Though down the line they may decide to serve dinner, they’ve found an upside to closing by mid-afternoon.
“It’s been really nice,” Boone says. “For the first time in my life, I’ve had a great work-life balance. Just serving two meals allows us and our staff to have time with our families.”
Though they are not originally from Jeffersontown, Boone says she feels like she’s lived here her whole life due to the welcoming nature of the entire community, which has embraced their business venture right from the start.
“We had this massive outpouring of people who were really excited about this breakfast concept,” Boone says. “Plus, they loved that it was a local family who owned it. We liked supporting the community by providing this fun, family-friendly atmosphere where parents can enjoy breakfast with their kids or grab a milkshake together after school, or get together with girlfriends for a brunch on Saturdays and have mimosas.”
The tremendous amount of support has been especially appreciated during the pandemic, which has hit restaurants hard.
“Many people have told us that they want to support us now, in order to ensure that we are here for years to come,” Boone says.
The sense of community is palpable.
“We know the breakfast order every Saturday for the hardware store that’s right next to us,” Boone says. “We see the same faces most mornings. We know these regulars’ life stories and their health struggles. We’re providing a meal but also a basic human need, which is to make them feel happy while they are here.”
In light of COVID-19 and the quarantining people have had to endure, many people have been separated from their families. The diner has helped with that connection as well, enabling children to pick up a to-go order and drop it by their parent’s nursing home or assisted living facility, for instance.
Even though Boone and her staff wear masks, diners have them off while eating and she delights in seeing their expressions.
“We’re able to see the joy that so many people are missing right now,” she says. “Honestly, my favorite thing about running the Gaslight Diner is making people smile.”
Gaslight Diner is located at 10509 Watterson Trail in Louisville. For more information, call 502-694-2322 or visit gaslightdinerky.com.