MELBOURNE — This week I visited a new-to-me diner in town, La Loma Coney Island. Although it’s been under new ownership since 2021, the customer base is still growing, and not enough people have yet to find this gem of a diner.

Raul Quintana took on the brave venture of starting a restaurant business in the middle of a pandemic, and he’s committed to serving his patrons with friendly service and tasty food.

Locals may remember the spot at 1180 Aurora Road as the Old Village, and with a fresh coat of paint and an updated menu, diners of La Loma Coney Island can enjoy a range of breakfast and lunch options that weren’t available before.

Inside is a welcoming atmosphere where you can seat yourself at one of the checkerboard tables and a small American flag planted on each one.

Mr. Quintana makes a point to greet his patrons when he’s not busy in the kitchen, and as familiar faces walk in, he calls out to them by name and they return the smile.

Part of the restaurant’s name, La Loma, is a reminder of where Mr. Quintana grew up. The other half, Coney Island, is a nod to the popular restaurants found in northern states, particularly in Michigan where he moved from.

“What made me open a Coney Island/diner was inspired from my years in Michigan working for the Greeks/Albanian people,” Mr. Quintana said. “The pandemic pushed me to do it, as I happened to believe that somehow, it was my time to do it, even though it was the worst time to do so.”

Mr. Quintana is not a stranger to the restaurant business. He previously owned and ran restaurants in Michigan before moving to St. Cloud.

The menu offers everything from griddle favorites like pancakes, French toast and waffles, to omelets with biscuits and gravy, country fried steak, corned beef hash and egg sandwiches.

For lunch, you can grab one of the Coney specials like a chili dog, Chicago hot dog. Or, you can grab a burger, a sandwich served hot or cold, pitas, Italian favorites like spaghetti and veal or chicken parmesan, and some Tex-Mex classics like quesadillas and burritos.

As for me, I wanted to try a bit of both worlds. I ordered the French toast and a chili dog. Even though it doesn’t sound like something you’d normally eat together, they were both so tasty it didn’t matter.

What I loved most about the French toast was how thick it was and how there was a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top. There was also the perfect amount of cinnamon in the mix, and each bite with maple syrup was so delicious.

My chili dog was also a mouthful of flavor in every bite. I really enjoyed the chili and had to mop up my plate with the hot dog bun so I could savor every part of my meal.

The prices on the menu were very reasonable, especially in a time where most places are hiking them up.

Sitting at my table, I could see myself returning to try some of the other food on the menu. It also could be a great spot to enjoy time with friends and family.

The diner has a large room next to the main dining area that would be great for larger parties – I instantly thought back to the day after my wedding and how difficult it was to find a breakfast place that could seat 20 of my friends and family together. La Loma Coney Island would have been the perfect spot.

“This is a place people can get together and enjoy the food and atmosphere,” Mr. Quintana said.

He added that it’s been a challenge since opening to get more patrons coming in, but it’s only a matter of time before more people try his food and spread the words themselves.

Mr. Quintana welcome the public to come experience La Loma Coney Island for themselves, and he encourages people to tell him what they liked or didn’t like so that he can improve its services.

La Loma Coney Island is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Follow La Loma Coney Island on Facebook or Google for more information.

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