As of July 1, a Livingston’s Diner will be out of the Livingston family for the first time in the restaurant’s long history.
“After 38 years, I’m ready to slow down and have a little less stress in life,” says Jeanne Shaft, who owns the restaurant at 832 N. Webb Road.
Her late husband was Bob Livingston, whose grandfather started the business in 1910, which makes it the oldest restaurant in the city.
Livingston’s daughter, Melissa Atkinson, last year took over her family’s restaurant at Lincoln Square.
The Webb Road Livingston’s has been open for 11 years.
Mark Collier, a realtor with McCurdy Auction, will own the restaurant as of July 1. He’s keeping his day job, too.
“I really love real estate.”
Collier says he loves restaurants, too.
“I have 27 years in the restaurant business.”
That includes a variety of work – such as at hotels and chain restaurants – in a variety of places nationally.
“I learned the corporate side of customer service – putting systems into place,” he says. Collier calls it “really, really good training.”
Shaft says Collier has “the background, the experience, the knowledge and the want-to.”
“He is a very experienced restaurant man, and he will take us to a new level.”
Though Collier doesn’t plan a lot of changes, he does have some in mind for down the road, such as adding healthier options to the menu. That’s why he says he’s going to drop the Diner from the name.
“I don’t want to have it limited to being considered just a diner,”
Also, he’s going to start having special events in the evenings since the 126-seat restaurant doesn’t serve dinner.
“It’s something that I’m really good at,” Collier says of events, though he says he doesn’t have the equipment to do it right away.
Not much else will change, he says.
“This restaurant has a great reputation.”
Shaft says Livingston “would be very happy about this – to have Livingston’s continue on like this with such an experienced person heading it up.”
She adds, “I just want to say how thankful we are to our loyal customers who over the years have become our friends.”
That doesn’t mean she’s not looking forward to a break.
Collier is already at the restaurant preparing for the transition, so that means Shaft is still working, too, instead of relaxing just yet.
“I’m just dreaming about it.”