Our tourism industry is built by people with passion, a hard work ethic, and a brilliant idea! There’s no doubt, those same people had to shed some blood, sweat and tears to achieve their goals. For Jolene Bjarnason, the owner/operator of Li’l Diner 2/42, you can add patience. Here’s the story of the little red food truck that could.
Tell us about your company, and how you came about the opportunity?
The company was started 18 years ago as Complete Catering and has serviced Innisfail and central Alberta since. Innisfail Auction Mart, Gleniffer Lake Resort, Restaurant at the Innisfail Legion at present, and other various endeavors over the years around food. Then we decided we were going to build a diner and were looking for a good parcel of land from the County when Junction 42 surfaced. The idea of a Food Truck was to keep us busy for the summer and show people what will be coming to the area soon. Due to COVID-19 the building of the diner has been pushed back, but there is a silver lining to every story and Jolene and her family found ways to move forward and keep their dream alive.
What makes you different, unique or stand out?
We are different from a lot of food trucks, we offer, burgers, pies, homemade bread for sandwiches, ice cream, floats, fried chicken and fish. Specials on Friday and Saturday. Home made food for the truckers in particular, they have requested homecooked meals like meatloaf, which visitors can also enjoy. We are not as married to our menu, not as specific, we like to offer variety and change it up to offer fresh options from the truck, these guys are eating out a lot and it’s nice to not feel guilty eating fried as often, fresh wraps, salads etc. Our aim in to keep everything homemade, from bread to pies etc.
What are your must-do experiences?
Our most popular menu item has definitely been the Junction 42 burger, you need 2 hands to eat this burger and a hearty appetite, 2 patties, 2 cheese, 2 pieces of bacon and an egg. People say we have great burgers, and our whole meat chicken burger is great too, and what is better than a slice of pie and ice cream?!
Why do you do what you do?
I love it when people love to eat. Nothing makes me happier that watching people enjoying the food we have lovingly made. We have a big family, 6 kids ourselves who are grown and have helped in one way or another with the business.
The diner was truly inspired by my mom and her love for food and feeding her family, she was a great cook and made everyone feel good and loved. I have a photo of my mom as a young lady working in a restaurant, and you can see the joy on her face and how much she truly enjoyed doing what she was.
I love being around people and with me loving to cook and people loving to eat, it has been a great partnership. Prior to food services, Jolene was a nurse for 23 years, when the opportunity to help a friend out with catering for her wedding of 300 guests arose and really evolved from that moment on. I made 1,300 jams and pickles during COVID, out of boredom, she laughs. I need to be busy. Although these preserves are not for purchase, you will find the same skill and dedication to her kitchen craft though the food truck and eventually the diner. Our whole family are kitchen people, and we are fortunate to be very family driven. The kitchen is my space, jokes Jolene, my 3 daughters know this is mom’s kitchen, but all are helpful when the time comes. We all gather in the kitchen and visit when we are together, it comes down to this feeling.
What can guests (local or visiting) expect to experience?
Friendly fast fresh delicious food and excellent service.
What is new or upcoming?
Come visit us at the food truck (hours) up at Junction 42, just west off Highway 2, construction dates for the diner will be determined on the pandemic status, before they break ground. The diner will seat 110 capacity, and future development will include a banquet room on the back of the property for meetings of 100 capacity that can be divided into 3 spaces. A great addition to Red Deer County.
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