ELYRIA, Ohio - Donna Dove, owner of Donna's Diner in Elyria, now sells her own brand of soda. Donna, and her diner, found celebrity last fall when featured in a New York Times series on the state of small businesses in America.
"I walked into Giant Eagle and I was like, 'Oh my God,'" Dove said, as she recalled when she first realized how extensive the coverage was. "That's the diner on the front page of the New York Times."
For a while, the worldwide attention was fun.
"We're sitting here with Japan and Austria comes in and wants to talk to me," Dove said. "While I'm talking to all of Japan and Austria, Spain walks in wanting to talk."
But customers coming to eat at this now-famous place were leaving with more than just a full stomach. Wanting a souvenir of this featured diner, they were taking menus, salt and pepper shakers, silverware and sugar bowls. The cost of replacing these items, the menus alone at $7 each, was getting expensive. Dove had to figure out how to satisfy customers who wanted something to take home.
"It just clicked, you know," she said of when the thought struck her to label her own brand of soda, "It's like, ‘Wow, I could put my name on it. They could buy the pop and they have the bottle.'"
She also sells T-shirts and has pens available for customers.
So now, when folks come to eat at Donna's and want to take a little something as a souvenir, they're encouraged to take home some of her private label soda, and leave the menus behind.