Located right on the main drag on South Tacoma Way, Edison City Diner has slowly become a favorite among locals and regulars, but for the rest of Tacoma, this classic diner just might be the biggest hidden gem in the city. Run by owner and chef Leian Susee and daughter Mikaela, Edison City Diner opened in August offering fresh, classic diner favorites including the restaurant’s famous Reuben, hand-made chicken fried steak, homemade soup and more. Each item is made from scratch, either from an old family recipe or from the imagination of the chef herself.
Susee grew up in the industry watching her parents run their own restaurants, but made a career for herself as a sales executive, allowing her to travel the world. As she climbed the corporate ladder, she never forgot about her foodie ways and regularly attended food expos and industry events. She spent seven years working in Australia, where she became great friends with a renowned French chef who spent time coaching her on the cooking techniques of his home country.
After moving back home and settling down, she became a victim of the economy and was displaced from her sales position. Instead of wallowing in her unemployment, she decided to put her classically trained cooking skills to the test by designing an online business selling her homemade pies, cakes and cobblers. The demand for these handcrafted desserts was definitely there, but with operating costs to deal with, she was barely breaking even. But as she learned of a space for lease on South Tacoma Way, she decided to throw her hat in the ring and offer something different – a classic, old-fashioned diner that refuses to cut any corners.
Since 1917, that particular space has been home to a diner of some sort – Susee even estimates that the stools set up right along the counter have been around since the 1940s, according to customers’ stories. “We try to reflect the era of this restaurant,” she said. “We’re not a bistro or a coffee shop or a café. We are a diner.”
And while many bigger restaurants can be seen receiving orders from national food distributors, Susee can be found shopping around local farmers markets and other shops around town to stock the kitchen. “Nothing comes out of a can around here,” she laughed. “We like to stick with the food that a true diner should offer.”
Some of the tried-and-true diner favorites include corned beef hash and eggs, completely made from scratch (served with your choice of toast, English muffin or biscuits and three eggs any style, $10.95), clubhouse (a triple-decker sandwich, served with three layers of toasted bread spread with mayonnaise, piled high with lettuce, cheddar and Monterey jack cheese, ham, turkey, bacon and tomato, $10.95) and clam chowder (a fan favorite served only on Fridays, a cup for $2.50 or $3.25 for a bowl).
All bread for the sandwiches comes from a local bakery, and she also works with a number of local vendors for dairy products, coffee and more.
Edison City Diner is located at 5640 South Tacoma Way. There is ample parking in the back of the restaurant. Regulars can take advantage of a frequent diner card, which gives customers a free entrée after purchasing 10 meals. Customers can also purchase whole pies, cakes and cobblers from the restaurant, and take-out options are also available for anyone who is on the run. For more information about Edison City Diner, call (253) 473-1517.