Danny’s Diner – Middlebury

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Local couple succeed in restaurant game

Screenwriter / Julie Yates
Photograph provided

Open since summer 2021, Danny’s Diner already has a following of fans who love the pizzas, grinders and other offerings the restaurant serves. The Middlebury business is owned by local resident Danny Hochstetler and his wife Leah. Today the building has a new look inside, but it has had several different restaurant identities in the past.

Older generations knew it as a creamery owned by Vic Hooley, which sold legendary ice cream. Later it became part of Mancino’s chain of Italian restaurants. More recently it was the site of Northridge Pizzeria.

Danny, who grew up in Millersburg, met Leah when they both worked at the Jayco RV factory. After they married in 2018, they moved to Middlebury where Leah was born and raised. They were looking for a change when the opportunity to own a business presented itself.

“I was intrigued by owning a restaurant,” says Danny Hochstetler. “Dips On The Vine, an ice cream shop, was put up for sale but we weren’t able to get it. Then this opportunity arose and we bought the company at the end of June 2021. We no longer work at the factory. The restaurant holds our full attention. We changed the name and gave it a refresh. The interior has been completely repainted. There’s just a bit of the old striped wallpaper left in one corner. We have redone the kitchen. A bigger oven was installed, to fit more pizzas, and we scoured the place to make it really clean.

The take-out pizza business at Danny’s Dinner is booming. The most frequently ordered pizza is the meat, a specialty selection including pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham and ground beef. Another popular choice is Chicken Bacon Ranch, but customers enjoy several other varieties such as Chicken & Spinach and Hawaiian. A gluten-free pizza is also on the menu. There are four pizza sizes, ranging from an extra large 16-inch size with 10 slices to a personal size of 7 inches. An extra-large specialty is $19.99, while a personal cheese-only pizza is $3.49.

Besides pizza, the restaurant also offers breakfast pizzas, grinders, burgers, and salads, as well as other dishes such as calzones, fries, wings, breadstick varieties, and bread rolls. cheese. The grinders are a throwback to when the location was a Mancino – the chain is known for them. Unlike cold subs, they are baked and served hot. One theory is that the sandwich is a New England version of the gyro, eaten by Italian-American dockworkers nicknamed “Grinders”.

Of the 16 types of grinders available at Danny’s Diner, the most popular is the Italian, followed by the Stromboli. They come in two sizes – 4″ for $4.19 and 8″ for $7.99. To complete a meal, salads are also available. Of the seven salads on the menu, customers seem to particularly like the Chef’s and the Garden’s salads. Of course, ice cream is a great way to top it all off.

“A lot of people come as a family just for the ice cream,” says Hochstetler. “I would really like to develop the ice cream side of the business, and in the future we plan to install a soft ice cream machine. Also, I hope that one day we can have a pizza buffet .

Danny's dinner

Delivery makes life easier for workers and families. The full menu is available on the official website. Customers can call with their order. The delivery charge is $10 within a five-mile radius of the restaurant and $1 for each additional mile.

“When it was Northridge Pizzeria, it was open on Sundays,” says Hochstetler. “As I am a Christian, Danny’s Diner is therefore closed. I was afraid of wasting an extra day to make money, but we were lucky to be open for six days instead of seven. It’s been busy. I didn’t know the restaurant business before, but I am now. I love it. Our biggest surprise was the overwhelming support from the community.

Danny’s Diner is located at 422 South Main Street in Middlebury. Call them at 574-825-2565. For more information and to see the menu, visit dineatdannys.com.

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