Millie’s Diner

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For some time now we’ve been meaning to try brunch at Millie’s Diner out on the east end of Main Street, just down the hill from St. John’s Church.  Whenever the subject came up of where we should eat, one of our friends would always say “have you tried Millie’s?” Thanks to a door prize from a recent auction, the family went there for Sunday brunch just before the Christmas holidays.

Millie’s opened in 1989 way back before that end of the city was being redeveloped.  The original building was a mom and pop diner that served the workers from the nearby cigarette and tobacco factories.  The building was vacant for years until 1989.

The first thing you realize at Millie’s is that they don’t take reservations for Sunday brunch.  But we didn’t mind the thought of waiting, especially when they offer a Bloody Mary or Mimosa to help you enjoy the wait.  It’s a little interesting though, because there’s no real room to wait.  So we stood in line behind the people seated at the bar and across from the people seated at the booths.  There’s another room toward the back but we didn’t make it there.

The décor is, well, eclectic but fun.  Standing there felt a little awkward at first until we realized that, at Millie’s, that’s just what you do.  Plus it gave us time to read and re-read the chalkboard menu.  If you go and have to wait take advantage of that time because they don’t bring menus to the table.

While waiting you can also watch two young men preparing the meals right there behind the counter.  The experience is as much a part of the meal as the actual food.  Our wait for Sunday brunch was about 25 minutes.  But there’s so much to watch and take in that it didn’t seem bad at all.

There’s also the chance to listen to Millie’s Jukebox. It houses a collection of 60s, 70s, Reggae and more all played on 7’’ vinyl disks.  They’re always looking for old 45s to add to their collection.    The actual jukebox resides in the basement, but you can play your favorites at your table on authentic Seeburg 200 Wall-O-Matics.

Because there’s no printed menu, the food selections tend to change. But there’s never a shortage of great choices and food combinations.

I went with the Grilled Angus Beef Loin which is served with two poached eggs, grilled asparagus and hollandaise.  I wasn’t sure that I’d care for the poached eggs, but the flavor combination was delightful.  The beef was cooked to my liking and I found myself wishing they’d included just a little more asparagus.

My wife and more adventurous son had the Soft Scrambled Eggs with Lobster which includes bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms, puff pastry and hollandaise.  They both seemed pleased with their selection.  T

The less adventurous son went with a basic burger which he said was awesome.

I want to go back and give Castro’s Mess a try.  That’s three scrambled eggs with Cuban spiced pork, onions, black beans, tomatoes, cheddar, and tortilla strips.

We were too stuffed to try dessert, but plan to go back next time to try the cobbler and what we hear is great coffee.  Millie’s is also now offering a three course tasting menu that offers soup or salad an entrée and dessert.

Millie’s owners are as unique as the Diner itself.  Millie’s is owned by Paul Keevil and Lisa Edwards.  Originally from London, Keevil came to the U.S. to pursue the music business. He lived in Los Angeles where he opened the first Millie’s in 1983.  He named the place after the owners of the existing restaurant Millie and Jack.  He left Los Angeles in the late 80s and came to Richmond where he opened Millie’s Diner in 1989.

Lisa Edwards is originally from the Hampton Roads area and came to Richmond to attend VCU. She joined the staff of then State Senator, and now Congressman Bobby Scott.  She met Keevil in 1991 and not long after became his partner in Millie’s.  Edwards is the wine director and catering director for Millie’s.

Millie’s Diner, 2603 E. Main Street, Richmond


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