Appreciation can be expressed in many ways, but Sharon Keene of Newdale prefers to say thank you with food. And there was no better time for the owner of the Newdale Family Diner to thank her customers than during the Christmas season, as she did in 2018.
For the past three years, Keene has treated her customers to a traditional turkey dinner, plus perogies, cabbage rolls, perishke and an array of salads and desserts… all free of charge.
“The dinner is a great means to personally thank customers,” said Keene. “Tips over the year help to offset the dinner, so you can say I get financial assistance as well as hands-on assistance when it comes to my special community gift.”
Customers and community members gathered in December and in total 115 meals were served.
The guest list included regular customers who were personally invited by Keene six weeks in advance. In a show of appreciation of their own, patrons generously tipped all those who helped put on the meal. As in years past, a few meals were delivered to business people working that day, and Keene relied on extra pairs of hands through a part-time staff member and volunteers.
Although it takes a great deal of planning, the event puts a smile on Keene’s face, as she has developed quite a fondness for the community she has called home for the past three years.
“Upon meeting my significant other, I pulled up stakes from Fort McMurray, Alberta, and made the move to Manitoba,” said Keene. “Having cooking experience, once I heard the restaurant was up for lease, I opted to give it a try as it was a mere five minutes or so from my place of residence. It beat driving to Minnedosa or Brandon for a source of employment.”
Managing the business by herself, Keene is the cook, chief bottle washer, server and hostess, and she also does catering. Originally from Newfoundland, Keene has built a clientele from all over Manitoba, including Brandon, Neepawa, Hamiota, Minnedosa, Erickson, and plenty of smaller towns in between.
“I think it’s safe to say that I have established a very good reputation here in Newdale,” said Keene, who has been involved in various aspects of the food industry for most of her adult life. “Like any business, you have your slow times, but overall, since starting the diner, it has been good and I’m happy at this time in my life.”
The Newdale Family Diner is open six days a week (closed Mondays).
With Christmas being not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts, Keene’s thoughtfulness truly was a reason to celebrate the spirit of giving.
“It’s always a pleasure and a privilege to serve the community of Newdale and area,” she said. “I hope the season was filled with laughter, merriment, celebration and good times.”