With a sigh of relief and a round of applause, residents of Dimondale, and the surrounding areas, celebrated at Mike’s Village Restaurant Wednesday, June 27 as Lori Conarton announced she’d be reopening the Dimondale favorite. For 50 years Mike’s was a staple of the village of Dimondale, serving baked goods and homestyle fare. Dimondalians knew owner Mike Chappell and his staff and took comfort in the food, friendliness, and simplicity. Many, far and wide, were saddened when Mike announced he’d be closing the restaurant, and Conarton was one of the many.
Saddened by the news as she was, Conarton decided to let the announcement be the catalyst for fulfilling one of her lifelong dreams — to own her own local diner, especially one she was familiar with. Conarton and her mother were regulars at Mike’s, and she couldn’t stand the thought of losing another gem of Dimondale’s main street, especially one that had lasted in the village through many storms and changing times.
“The day he (Mike) made the announcement, I started thinking about it,” said Conarton.
It wasn’t long before she and Chappell had made arrangements. Pieces are currently in motion to have the same, familiar restaurant reopened in August. Many familiar faces and dishes will return to Mike’s, but a few things will be different. Mike’s will have a facelift, with new paint and flooring. The hours will also change, with restaurant no longer offering dinner. Still, the menu will have many of its essential favorites, as well as the small town charm any diner needs.
The reopening of Mike’s, however, is less about the food and walls, to Conarton, and more about the people. Conarton not only was a regular customer at the village restaurant, she also worked at Mike’s during her high school and college years. To her, and to so many patrons, Mike’s was a place for community togetherness, early employment, and fond memories.
“In every community there’s a restaurant people go to regularly. There’s a sense of community and friendliness,” said Conarton. “It’s a friendly atmosphere, everybody knows your name, you feel at home there… That’s so important to us.”
The concept of the community restaurant isn’t just important to Conarton and Chappell, it’s important to many Dimondale residents. Conarton has received dozens of encouraging and grateful emails, messages, and phone calls regarding her announcement. Mike’s absence may have been short, but it left an impact on the community. Residents are eager to have their beloved restaurant reopened, and hopefully ready for another 50 years of service.