Iconic Blackfoot Diner turns 60
On weekends, patrons of Calgary’s much-loved Blackfoot Diner are lined up out the door. The Inglewood landmark serves up legendary breakfasts, sensational hot turkey sandwiches and the finest flapper pie in the West. You know a restaurant must be good when it’s about to celebrate 60 years of good food.
Going back to 1956, the first diner was called the Royalite Oil after the Calgary company that built the Blackfoot Truck Stop in Inglewood, built at the same time Blackfoot Trail was completed. Blackfoot Trail was the original highway by-pass, taking traffic from Macleod Trail to Southland Drive, then east to Blackfoot Trail and north to Highway 2 or east on the Trans Canada. The original building was across the parking lot from where the current restaurant stands today. The Royalite itself was one of the few cafés outside of the city centre. It was a 30-seat café with a capacity of just 80 customers until another room was added in the 1970s.
Royalite executives who were patrons of the Wave Coffee Shop in Calgary noticed two hard-working waitresses, sisters from small town Alberta, and offered them a job running their new diner. Elvira and Edna from Wimborne had moved to Calgary to seek their fortune and between the two of them they built the Blackfoot Diner into a legend.
In the early days, neither sister droved or owned a car. They bought groceries and carried them to the diner on the bus no matter what the weather.
The regulars swear by the shepherd’s pie but the longevity of this city landmark is more than just about the good food. Edna in particular was responsible for the six decades of success with a passion for people and paying it forward. She passed away five years ago but her daughter, Roxanne is carrying the torch along with co-owner Tanyia Brown. Like many of the staff members throughout the years, Edna’s kids worked in the diner and when they were too young to work, they often brought pillows and blankets in and took naps in the storage room while the parents and older siblings worked.
Long-time staff members and regular customers refer to the diner as “Cheers”, where everyone knows your name. It’s been a 24-hour a day restaurant for least 55 of the 60 years it’s been open. The only time it was closed, and barely closed at that, was when the 2003 film Undercover Christmas used the Blackfoot Diner as a location. The production crew talked Edna into closing the restaurant to the public for at least six hours. She finally relented, although the kitchen was still open for back door takeout orders. Staff even brought their families to the diner for Christmas dinner.
Today, the Blackfoot Diner has room for 250 customers. Wednesdays are liver and onions day. Soup is still homemade. Everything is the same as Edna left it, with a toy train running the track, jukeboxes, Hollywood memorabilia and lots of other collectibles. A 60th birthday party will be held by the owners and family of Edna Taylor on June 15.Posted by on