Kirby and Deb Linjer have purchased the former Jitters ‘N Shakes cafè in downtown Manawa.
The new Sun Dawg Diner will open Oct. 22.
“We have a lot of good ideas and I think it will be very successful,” Kirby Linjer stated. He promises great prices and huge helpings.
The menu will be different than anything the Manawa area has seen. Specialties will include pulled pork, smoked baby back ribs, Italian beef, roast beef, corned beef, homemade soups and “the best coffee you have ever tasted”.
The Linjers discovered ARCO coffee on a visit to Superior, where this small family company has been roasting coffee beans since 1917.
Coming up with the diner’s name was a harder process.
After visiting Deb’s parents, the Linjers were driving back on State Highway 10 when they noticed a sundog in the sky. “We looked at each other and said, ‘That’s it!'” Kirby recalled.
The name is a tribute to their rat terrier, Otis, who died recently. “He slept a lot, lying next to the tree in the sun,” Kirby explained. “We started calling him our little sun dog.”
The diner will be open for breakfast and lunch, from 5:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., seven days a week, 364 days a year. Kirby will get a break once a week because Deb has agreed to run the diner on one of her days off from work.
“She is such a sweetheart,” said Kirby, who admires his wife’s pleasant personality. “You can hear her coming a block away because she is always laughing.”
Kirby grew up in the Manawa area, graduating from Little Wolf High School in 1972. Deb is from the Larsen-Winchester area. They met at the Oshkosh State Correctional Institution. Deb is a sergeant in the OSCI Sex Offender Unit, and Kirby was a lieutenant.
“I’m her supervisor … only at the prison,” stated Kirby, who recently retired after working in corrections for over 18 years.
He had intended to retire in two years and “just do my woodworking – that was my plan,” Kirby said.
He blames his sister, Lori Ferg, for changing his plans. “She said it would be perfect for us, because we both love to cook,” Kirby recalled. “We looked at the place and we both loved it.”
They realize a restaurant requires a lot of hours and still wonder, “Who in their right mind would retire to work that hard?”
After an unreasonable amount of pressure from friends and family, the Linjers finally said, “OK. We will do it.”
“The restaurant has such good character, we hated to see it close,” Kirby explained. “And I needed something to do once I retired – something I enjoy doing.”