I purchased the 44th St. Diner on November 16, 2004. Over the past 10 or so years I’ve operated it very similarly to the way it was when I purchased it. Around this time last year, I felt it was time to make some significant changes.
The biggest change I made was closing for Sundays starting in December, 2014. My wife and I had struggled with this decision for many years and I always felt it was too risky to close on our busiest day of the week. In October of last year, I felt led to make the decision to close on Sundays. I did it so that my staff and myself would have one guaranteed day to spend with family and friends, go to church, or just have a day of rest and maybe watch some Lions (meh). Little did I know that family would take on new meaning as two days after the decision was made my wife and I found out we’d be expecting our first child come summer.
After we closed on Sundays, I knew that the next big change would be what our restaurant represented. In our personal life, we would often go to farmer’s market, buy organic when feasible, and occasionally eat a meal without meat. This was in stark opposition to the business I was running and I knew something had to change.
We spent the next 8 months working on a menu that we felt more represented who we in our personal lives. Along with the menu, we wanted to freshen up the interior a little and maybe invest in some technology that could eventually help us manage the business better. All these changes led us to decide that it was time to get a new name. We felt the name “44th St. Diner” no longer accurately represented who we were or what we wanted to become.
We decided on Noble because we felt it fit with the direction we were taking our menu. Traditionally in the restaurant biz, the goal is to buy low and sell high (similar to Wall Street). This is accomplished by usually buying the lowest quality/cheapest products and trying to serve them in such a way that they seem more impressive then they are. I call this deception dining, and it is rampant in the industry – I’m sure there is some of it still lingering around my restaurant as well. I even once had a cook that said by definition, if you buy a can of soup and add three ingredients/seasonings to it, you can call it homemade. Similarly, I laugh a little when I look at a menu and it has the words freshest ingredients or highest quality. I would assume there are maybe a handful of restaurants in West Michigan who, when referring to their entire menu, could use those phrases and keep a straight face.
So what is Noble? It is an attempt to do it differently. Our mission is made up of three parts: 1) Remove the unnecessary junk in our food when possible 2) Buy the best quality food we can afford 3) Make as many items in house from scratch as possible. We may not be the hippest, coolest, fastest restaurant around, and that’s ok with me. We don’t have concrete floors and exposed brick, ultra trendy uniforms, or the latest indie tracks playing on the PA. That’s simply not who we are. We are just a small restaurant trying to be a little different.