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Why You Should be Paying Attention to Metro Diner

Metro Diner

What is the fuss about Metro Diner? Of later, the talk of Americas' dining tradition being restored has been linked to Metro Diner. If you are a fan of weekend and evening diners, you may just be in love with Metro like everyone else. There are many factors that set Metro Diner apart. It may be its modern dishes, style of service, or just the cultural embodiment of America's rich history. The fact that the chain serves breakfast throughout the day also counts. This may explain why the brand has seen rapid expansion in the past two decades— seeing its branches raise by double figures. Then there is the exceptional management style; a system that seeks to reward the best talent in the market by offering a motivational commission to enhance the performance of regional managers and other employees. But where exactly did Metro Diner originate from and who is at the helm?

The Origin Of Metro Diner

Both the residents of Jacksonville and those of Rutherford county lay a claim to the origin of the brand. The owners of the brand had their roots in Rutherford County, where Davoli lived for several years. But that is all that Rutherford has to claim in regards to the Brand. The Journey of growth and development for Metro Diner all started in Jacksonville. Although the name Metro Diner was only adopted in 1992, the original restaurant was opened in 1938. The initial Jacksonville Diner had been a relatively low profile restaurant, only operated in Jacksonville. Although the restaurant had regular clients, it was nothing compared to the modern rapid expanding Metro Diner. When it was acquired by Mark Divoli and Family, the intention was clear. They elevated the menu, introduced new dishes and modernized the services. In just two decades, the brand has been able to open over 50 branches. The 50th branch was launched earlier this year in Sarasota Fla. According to Mark Davoli, the brand has gained much popularity by offering family-oriented diners.

Who Is Behind The Company

You would be mistaken to think Hugh Connerty is the sole owner of the brand. Hugh Connerty literally runs the show, leading the brand from the front-line, with Mark and his family showing up only in his shadows. Connerty has served in any executive positions before taking on the job of branding and leading Metro Diner to its current success. Connerty supplied dessert products Jacksonville restaurants in the 1970s. His fortunes might have changed when he came face to face with the founder Outback Steakhouse Chris Sullivan. When the Outback started to expand, Connerty was right there. He helped develop the brand and became a partner. He also founded Hooters of America and developed Darden LongHorn Steak. However, his success as a chef and manager in these early positions is just but a shadow of his achievements. The transformation story of Metro Diner puts an unforeseen twist to his career path and sets him apart among the top business minds.

The interesting journey of Metro Diner starts with Mark Davoli and his father establishing Metro in 1992. This was before he was a professional cook. Mark went on to become a grill cook at Outback Steak which was owned by Connerty. Fast forward, by 2014, Mark had built his Jacksonville brand into a sensation and could sit at the same bargaining table as Connerty and Sullivan. It was at this time that the modern Metro Diner was reborn, with Sullivan, Connerty, and Davoli pulling their mind together. The strategy used to fuel the growth of Metro Diner can be tracked to the three masterminds. Right from the footprint, the brand was established in the collaboration of the biggest minds. Then, there is the management style.

Metro Diner Management Style

The management of Metro diner borrows a lot from Outback Steak. Outback was the first brand to introduce the management partner program. Metro has employed an advanced version of the program to expand its territory and has been successful so far. The strategy used by Metro Diner is similar to that applied by Texas Roadhouse, where each partner pays $25000 upfront and pockets up to 10% of store profits. With Metro Diner, the salary is lucrative and partner profits even more enticing. With an annual salary of $75000, managing partners only have to invest in $7,500 and end up pocketing up to 10% of the dinner profits. The partner also gets a chance to receive participation interests of diner cash flow above the salary. According to Connerty, the management style is employed to give the managing partners the best compensation in the industry. Connerty, who co-manages the brand with Sullivan, believes that anyone who wants to be a partner has to earn the right. The diner chooses its partners carefully and targets individuals who have the drive to invest and make money.

43 of the regional managers at Metro Diner have either worked with Sullivan or Connerty before. They have a history dating back to the early years of Outback and that is how they gain the trust of the business managers. Besides the managing partner owning a part of the business, every branch has a local investor, who owns 30 % of the branch. Local investors help in building trust in the brand everywhere. Local communities get to support the brand just because it is owned by a member of the community.

Metro Diner Veterans Discounts

There are many factors to consider before choosing a place to dine. When it comes to Metro Diner, everything is a good reason to stay. Think about the all day long breakfast. Most American families find it perfect to get together during weekends an enjoy a family breakfast or branch without much trouble. Discounts also play a key role in keeping Metro Diner on top of the game. It is not only the weekend discounts but also the weekday discounts for purchases above $50. Further, there are discounts for veterans, both retired and active. All you have to produce is your valid ID to receive up to 20% on all purchases. Although these offers are not daily, Metro constantly uses promotional discounts to get the interest of families. Its pricing model is also attractive to the middle class and low-income individuals. At just the cost of $30, you can enjoy a full dinner with your family.

Why Metro Diner?

This classic American dinner speaks to most people. It offers the types of foods that most people need. Right from the food to the feeling of comfort at the table. The tasty cheeseburger and fries are just but part of the incredible all day long menu at Metro Diner. Americans also enjoy taking Coffee and Metro Diner is taking advantage of this. You will be shocked by the endless supply of coffee up until you get your order delivered. The waiters make the waiting session seem shorter with their exceptional service.

Right Timing

The success of Metro Diner can also be associated with the timing. The time was ripe and Hugh Connerty sported the opportunity. As the founder of Hooters America, he was a key part of the journey that led to the establishment of Metro Diner as we know it. In 2009, the diner made a turnaround and invested more in the quality of food with the aim of reaching new heights.

The Rapid Expansion

The revenue of Metro Diner experienced an abrupt spike by 71% in 2018. According to the Technomic's List of top 500 largest chains, the brand experienced the highest growth rate within that period. The rise in revenue was reflected in the rapid expansion of its branches. The company now has 50 branches throughout American and intends to establish several new branches this year. In 2018 alone, they opened 21 new locations and the plan is to open up to 20 more in 2019. You can now enjoy a quiet Metro Diner experience in over 15 states including Florida and New Jersey among others. The minds behind the diner have seen it expand without private equity funding. Although the company has not received direct equity funding from banks, it has enjoyed direct private equity funding from individuals. All the partners have a stake in the business and many local investors have paved the way for the establishment of numerous branches throughout the country.

When asked if he thinks the brand is expanding too first, Connerty went direct to the point. He and his team believe that they are in control of things. The brand does not rely on any outside sources of labor. According to Connerty, through its 70 years of operation, all partners and workers are individuals who have been developed by the brand. He says that the management is confident when setting up new branches since they are well managed by individuals they can trust. He further explains that they reward those that perform well with lucrative positions. This has seen Metro Diner become one of the most lucrative paying chains in the restaurant industry. They are willing to invest in internal growth of talent and reward the best performing employees with higher roles and better salary.

The Future Of Metro Diner

According to Connerty, the business is establishing itself in preparation for the future. The future will be established on three key pillars

People People People

The manager believes that the success of any business must be based on the people it serves. Metro diner aims at getting to the hearts of all Americans by providing the most ideal family dinner destination. The rapid expansion is aimed at ensuring the business has a presence in all states. The brand wants to ensure that all American families with a desire to enjoy family dinners associate the adventure with Metro. For this reason, the company is developing in-house talent and new local dishes to entice the entire American population.

Work Force

The second factor that will matter in the development of the brand is the workforce. As mentioned above, Connerty and his team are relying on company developed talent to boost the growth to other areas. All the employees get the chance to rise up through ranks and eventually a chance to set up a diner. Metro seeks to spread throughout the US by giving the people the power to run the chains and earn more money.


According to Connerty, the brand is established on partnership as it is today. They have not received any private equity funding but the diner has managed to expand exponentially. The secret behind the success lies in partnering with the people. In the next few years, the brand will be bringing new partners on board, to inject more capital while growing the reach of the dinner.

Metro Diner Prices

If you still haven't found a reason to enjoy Metro diner delicacies, maybe the prices will motivate you. It is mind-blowing to think that one of the best diners still offers the lowest prices. The success of Metro Diner may be associated so much with the minds behind the wheels, but the price has played an important role. The average check for breakfast is just $8 at Metro. This shows how affordable the franchise is to people of all walks. You can enjoy your breakfast with less than $5 and still feel happy about it. The overall average check for a meal at the diner is $13. According to Connerty, the diner serves its foods generously. For a table of two, the diner serves either breakfast or dinner under $30. It is a trend for most guests to pack the excess food in their to-go bags since the serving is overwhelming.It is at Metro Diner where you expect satisfaction for less.

According to the Connerty, the brand is further considering reducing the pricing and introducing smaller portions of food. However, if you enjoy having your meal without worrying if it will be enough, the current packages offer value for money. After all, the Metro Diner system is built on family principles. You want a place where your kids have to eat without worrying that the food won't be enough.


Metro Diner has established its name among the top restaurants in the US. With such a complicated history, the brand has risen to the top thanks to the masterminds of Sullivan and Connerty. This rapidly expanding franchise hopes to establish over 20 new branches in 2019. The brand uses a model that seeks to reward managers and offer the best salaries in the industry. Thanks to the relationship with people and a strong investment plan, there is no doubt about the fact that Metro is rising to the top. You can enjoy any of your favorite dishes at metro without worrying about the prices. If you cannot find a Metro Diner next to you, just keep your eyes open, it will be there sooner than you think.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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