The opening of a new Pittsburg restaurant to serve people in need has been delayed because of an unexpected cost. But the project has been completed, thanks to generosity from the community.
Lord's Diner was expected to open by this past Christmas. But developers behind the whole project realized demand for this type of service in the community is bigger than what was first realized.
One-thousand volunteers at Lord's Diner are probably thinking the same thing.
"It's crunch time," says Matt O'Malley, site director with Pittsburg's Lord's Diner.
There's only a few days left.
"We're opening Sunday," says O'Malley.
Food trays have to be washed. Boxes have to be organized.
"There's just a lot of little things that need to happen," says O'Malley.
A few weeks ago, one big thing was stopping this restaurant from opening. There were no fire sprinklers throughout Lord's Diner because at first, there was no need for them.
"If you have an assembly going on, and it's 99 or fewer people, the code does not require sprinklers," says City of Pittsburg Director of Public Works Cameron Alden.
Alden says Pittsburg's city code is based off international safety codes.
"We just realized, that's not going to work for us," says O'Malley.
Final estimates and studies on the Pittsburg area point to an estimated 250 people having dinner each night.
Workers at Lord's Diner say they knew they had to install a new fire sprinkler system. But the system came with a hefty price tag: $50,000.
"Our food cost per meal, we will keep that right around a buck," says O'Malley.
Having Lord's Diner pay for the sprinklers while also buying food for free dinners would mean 50,000 fewer meals for people in need. A contractor for the sprinkler system, RP3 in McCune, Kansas, wasn't for that idea, and neither were workers of the new Kansas Crossing Casino, once they heard about the situation. They donated money, cut the project cost in half, and even expedited work.
O'Malley says, "Which raises our maximum capacity at 300. Way more than probably we would want to have in here at one time!"
So the city is happy.
"Any time you involve public safety, that's the utmost importance," says Alden.
And soon, tummys will be full.
"It's really odd when things keep working out," says O'Malley.
But the more Lord's Diner workers think about it, they say there's a simple explanation, really. No matter how many little or big jobs are left...
"We sort of have God on our side here," says O'Malley.
Lord's Diner will open for its first meal at 5:30 pm this Sunday evening, and serve dinner until 7;30 pm. The restaurant will then be open 365 days a year. Other businesses and organizations in the Pittsburg area, like John Deere and a Ford dealership, have donated time, tools, and supplies to get the diner up and running.
The Pittsburg Lord's Diner is a new extension of the Wichita Lord's Diners, part of the Wichita Diocese.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas