Will’s Diner breathes new life into a long-standing restaurant in Brighton

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BRIGHTON – Will Montero’s journey to owning his own restaurant took a winding road, but eventually returned to Brighton, where he said he was now reconnecting with regulars he had been cooking for years.

Will’s Diner opened over the winter at 1009 E. Grand River Ave., in a location that has been occupied by a variety of restaurants over the years.

Montero, 39, who has worked at several southeast Michigan restaurants over the years, was a cook at the same site in the early 2010s when he was busy with Lucas Coney Island.

“This neighborhood is very welcoming to the restaurant industry and people already knew me,” he said.

Brighton’s George’s Coney Island, which also occupied the space, closed in 2020, and Montero said he knew straight away he wanted to open his own restaurant in the space.

Montero said that while the place has hosted Coney Island-style restaurants in the past, he wants his restaurant to take casual family dining to “the next level.”

“I want to get premium ingredients, even if they cost more,” he said.

Since Will’s started, he’s made a few upgrades to the space, including new kitchen fixtures, new flooring, ceiling tiles, and paint.

He said he plans to add new outdoor patio seating with privacy panels and umbrellas, and a meat smoker in the future.

Lots of options, big portions

Her goal for the menu is to provide lots of options and large portions.

“The menu should have options, and by choosing large portions, you want the person to feel like they have enough food on their plate. You don’t want to leave hungry,” he explained.

The restaurant serves breakfast all day, as well as wraps and pita sandwiches, gyro dinners, steaks, seafood, stir fries, Coney dogs, and burgers.

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Montero said he fell in love with the restaurant industry in his youth after moving from Costa Rica to Michigan about 20 years ago.

“The idea of ​​opening a restaurant had been in my head for 20 years,” he said.

He started a construction and renovation company, Costa Pro Contracting, to help fund his dream.

“I didn’t have the funds to do it at the time, so I used my carpentry skills, left the restaurant and started a small carpentry business. But my dream has always been to own a restaurant,” he said.

Sarah Widmayer worked with Montero when she was a waitress for Lucas Coney Island, and she’s thrilled to be back as General Manager of Will’s Diner.

“It’s more of a neighborhood restaurant, so 75% of customers who walk through the door, we recognize them as regulars. It’s that kind of place,” Widmayer said. “We’re bringing back a lot of our regulars from before. We’ve spent a lot of time networking with past customers on social media and texting.”

Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Timar at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @jennifer_timar.

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