Farm Fresh = Difference you can taste at Billie’s Diner

by Patricia Elwing

Have you ever come out of a diner after having breakfast or lunch and felt the heaviness of the greasy processed food and sub-par meat you just ate? Ugh… well suffer no more…there’s a new diner in town. This promising new establishment sources, on average, 70% of their ingredients and products from the Inland Northwest. Yes, fresh seasonal fruits and veggies and meat. This is a diner whose menu I was eager to start sampling.

McKenzie DonTigny, owner/operator of Billie’s Diner is offering a healthier option with her vision of a “farmer-first American diner.” Although it may sometimes be considered challenging for restaurants to work with farmers, McKenzie is trailblazing a model that can then be duplicated by other restaurants. Partnering with meat producers who use humane farming practices in the housing and treatment of their food animals. As well as local and regional fruit and veggie farmers. McKenzie is passionate about this project and is transparent and willing to share about all parts of the process.

billies diner
McKenzie DonTigny, owner/operator of Billie’s Diner

I spoke with McKenzie who commented, “I’ve always been attracted to food. I love the power that food has to bring people together.” (A woman after my own heart, I couldn’t agree more.) “Some of my favorite memories come from around the dinner table each night. And, I’ve always dreamed of opening up a restaurant, but thought it would be something I would do after I retired.” After graduating Gonzaga, McKenzie chose to pursue the corporate food world, working nearly 10 years in the marketing and finance side of the industry. But in 2020, it was a whole new ball game as many of us know. Like many of us who suffered closures and layoffs, McKenzie’s lay off actually propelled her into creating her own employment and new career pathway. She shared that, “Dreaming is honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And it has taken everything I have to bring this project to life. But it’s absolutely worth it.”

But the food…

For a delicious breakfast I recommend the Hog Belly Benedict – the fresh hollandaise sauce, farm fresh eggs, soft bread from Alpine Bakery and delicious pork made this Benedict one to remember. Others at my table loved the fresh apple-butter for their toast, the chicken bean soup and we all had to try the Caramel Apple Pie. This is just-like-mom-made-it food – at a diner! Check the board for their weekly pie and soup flavors.

Chef Sarah George joined the team bringing her talent and approach of seeking quality over trendy dishes to Billie’s. Working in collaboration with Sarah, a new menu is forthcoming and may be available by the time you read this article. It will include small modifications throughout the year based on supply chain, for example, if the summer is long, the tomatoes did well or the salmon are still running. This is how “fresh” comes to your plate, nature dictates what’s on the menu.

“We invite everyone on our entire staff to throw out ideas, because I believe collaboration is how we build something bigger than ourselves.” Billie’s Diner is open to suggestions from the patrons of what they would like and want to see on the menu. With an upscale clean and inviting atmosphere, McKenzie has nailed classy farm culture. Living in eastern Washington among all the farms, I am grateful to finally find farm-fresh food and a welcoming atmosphere for breakfast/lunch meetups.

The Farmers…

While McKenzie and Sarah love to collaborate on the menu, they also welcome the opportunity to work with local and regional farms and producers who align with humane practices and sustainable supply chain solutions to reach out to them. hello@billiesdiner.com They want to send a big shout out to Browning Beef, Vets on the Farm, Palouse Brand and Western Farms of Idaho, LINC Co-Op, Peaceful Lane Farm, and Sunset Highway Farm for their amazing contribution to this project. After all, it is the animals they raise and the fruits and vegetables they grow that the menu will be created around.

Check out and follow Billie’s Diner on FaceBook and Instagram the pictures of the food will have you planning your next dining experience.

For more on the interesting backstory of the enterprising McKenzie DonTigny, see
www.huckleberrypress.com/billies-diner-cooking-up-community-connectivity
Pattie’s Overall Review, 1-5 scale: 5 Stars out of 5
Customer Service: 5 (friendly, knowledgeable)
Atmosphere: 5 (cozy, clean, fresh, love the “FORD” tailgate)
Presentation: 5
Tasty Factor: 5

Notable: Homemade sauces, apple butter, soup of the week and pie, quality fresh meat & in-season produce. Enjoy casual breakfast and lunch. To-go is available. 24 hr. notice is requested for group orders and can be delivered in Airway Heights area. They accept whole pie orders 48 hours in advance. Coffee is free for active military, veterans and first responders.

In conclusion, those of us at Huckleberry Press want to thank you McKenzie and the entire staff for what you are bringing to our community. Airway Heights and the patrons from surrounding areas are going to love Billie’s Diner.

In-joy,
Pattie

Patricia “Pattie” Elwing, moved to Washington State in August 2020. A West Coast woman, her love for travel and discovering new places leads her around the world and now, around the Pacific Northwest. Watch for “Pattie Discovers the PNW” articles in the Huckleberry Press where she will offer fresh reviews and information about places she visits. If she sparked the travel bug in you, or you try a recommended location, leave her a comment below. 

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