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Iconic Bench diner won’t reopen after COVID shutdown, owner plans new drive-thru

Rockies Diner served its last meal after 28 years on the Boise Bench.

“It breaks my heart that I had to give up the diner,” owner  Petros “Rocky” Paflias told BoiseDev. “I’m not a big corporation where I can support three or four months out of my own pocket and maybe even longer. It’s tough.”

Rockies Diner closed for good

The diner first welcomed customers in 1992, and served up a steady diet of hearty breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the decades since. Waitresses on roller skates, neon lights, a jukebox and live DJs gave the diner a nostalgia-fueled atmosphere.

But COVID-19 brought that to an end.

“It was a choice to close with COVID-19. It’s hurting these businesses and the confidence of people actually going inside,” Paflias said. “I went to a few (other restaurants) myself. It’s sad. You can’t even have capacity — and then you can get customers to come eat inside.”

But Bench dwellers can still find some Rockies Diner favorites — and soon, so will people in the Micron area.

“if there was any chance for me to survivie, I would have to open up something with a drive thru so I can feed my family,” he said.

Paflias moved his focus to Bad Boy Burgers on Vista Ave. – and brought some staff from the diner to the drive-thru. He said business at Bad Boy remained strong.

“Vista has been really good. That’s what made me say ‘hey look, a drive-thru is good.’ It’s been busy. Our regular customers at Rockies Diner are supporting the Vista store, and kept us alive and bumped up the numbers.”

[Sheriff’s deputies shut down Rockies Diner. Here’s why]

Bad Boy comes to Federal Way

The increased sales means Paflias will pivot, and add another Bad Boy Burgers on Federal Way near Micron later this month. He signed a lease on a former Jack in the Box restaurant.

“At Federal Way, we will do all-day breakfast, and add some items from the diner over there to give people their favorites,” he said. “We’ll have our biscuits and grave, and create some drive-thru items there.”

He said he wants to keep people employed.

“I’m just trying to keep my people in jobs. I was able to transfer my people to Vista Bad Boy and keep them busy,” he said. “They’ve been loyal with me. They’ve been here 10 to 15 years. You have a responsibility as an owner. It’s a family – how can you not provide work to them?”

The new Bad Boy Burgers at 6875 S. Federal Way in Boise should be open this month for drive-thru service. Paflias said indoor seating could follow down the road.

Don Day - BoiseDev editor
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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