This Train Car In Washington Is Actually A Restaurant And You Need To Visit
Ask anyone in Spokane for breakfast recommendations and one spot is sure to come up: Frank’s Diner. They’ve won several local awards for their food, including winning The Inlander’s award of Best Breakfast in Spokane for 15 straight years. But what’s even more amazing is their building, which is a converted 1906 railroad car. And when they opened a second location in North Spokane, they restored another train car to keep the ambiance consistent.
The menu at Frank’s looks like an ordinary diner menu: bacon and eggs, chicken fried steak, dollar-sized hotcakes and Benedicts. But nearly every recipe started out in the founding family’s great grandmother’s kitchen and has been passed down through multiple generations. New ideas are always being created and tested with the culinary team, so you’ll have a menu that mixes the old with the new.
Gathering ingredients for the meals can best be described as farm to table and field to fork. They purchase as many local ingredients as possible, shopping daily for the largest, freshest eggs (of which they apparently crack 15,000 per month). They also buy sustainable ingredients whenever possible. The cooking is done daily, and almost everything is made from scratch. That’s what makes every entree taste so delicious.
So how did the train car diner come to be? Car No. 1787 was manufactured in 1906 by Barney Smith as an "observation car." It remained unsold until 1909, when it was purchased by the Northern Pacific Railroad and remodeled to be the private car for the president of the railroad. It was replaced in 1931 and was stranded in Seattle until Frank Knight bought it and converted it into a diner car. Frank’s was located in Seattle until 1991, when it moved to Spokane. Frank Knight’s brother’s name was Jack, and he operated Knight’s Diner, another local converted train car diner with delicious food you can find on Market Street.
When Frank’s first opened, it had a bit of a rough start. The food and service were mediocre at best. But in 1996, Larry Brown bought it and turned everything around. The food, the service and the ambiance keep people coming back. Larry still owns Frank’s along with Ken Belisle.
Perhaps the best thing about Frank’s (well, perhaps tied with the cheesy hashbrowns) is the way the staff gives back to the community. Through voluntary payroll deductions that are matched by the owners, Frank’s is one of the leading fundraisers in the city. They’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various charities and nonprofits, often working alongside their neighbor, The Onion Bar & Grill.
Through their Amazing Kid program, gift cards are given to local teachers as a means to help encourage their students to behave well. The gift cards are good for a free ice cream sundae at Frank’s. So although you might feel uncomfortably full when you leave this train car diner, you can still feel good at heart about where your money is going.
Have you been to Frank’s? Were you aware of its history? Here are some other historic restaurants in Washington with great backstories.
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