COLORADO SPRINGS — A popular downtown diner is on the rebound after closing its doors to the public in March. King's Chef Diner on Costilla Street reopened its purple castle doors to dozens of customers on Thursday morning.
It was all smiles and happy reunions for Gary Geiser, the king of the castle and the owner. He's been running the business since 1997.
However back in March, he announced on social media he was closing all three of the diner's locations because of challenges during the COVID pandemic. He told News5 the future for the diner was uncertain until a couple weeks ago.
"Those were really hard mental months," said Geiser. "The restaurants and diners are so family-oriented and we have such relationships with everybody, so it was really challenging and just took a hard emotional toll on us."
Geiser says he had a conversation with the head cook and the two decided if they could run the business together and be successful all these years, why not give it another go.
When the purple castle location re-opened Thursday morning, dozens of people were in line, waiting to get their first fix in six months.
Jon Severson, known to many at the diner as 'lunchbox,' said he missed the friendly atmosphere the diner offered.
"This place is more than a restaurant to me," said Severson. "It's like another home and I'm glad to see that my second home is finally back open."
For Geiser, he said the support of the community during the challenging times it what kept them going and allowed them to re-open the doors to the purple castle, which was built in 1956.
"We had a lot of uncertainty and with all the costs associated with closing the facilities, all those costs were continuing," said Geiser. "But we're really happy that everybody is supporting us and we're really thankful."
Geiser said the other two locations remain closed for now. He mentioned they're just taking it day-by-day and will see what happens in the future.
If you are a regular, things will look a little different too. Because of COVID restrictions, there is now a large outdoor patio in the back of the diner that can seat about 45 people. The business, which used to be cash only, is now taking debit and credit cards too.
The diner will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.