Virginia Diner

Virginia Diner: Celebrating 90 years of Business

Virginia Diner

An interview with Christine Epperson.

The Virginia Diner

APC: The Virginia Diner started out as a small diner in a railcar in 1929, when did peanuts become a major part of the business?

CE: The Diner has been cooking and selling peanuts since the late 1940s. The peanut part of the business grew out of the Diner, as travelers requested peanuts be shipped to them. My parents bought the business in 1976. At that time, the mail order part of the business was mostly fourth quarter seasonal with everything still being done in the Diner kitchen utilizing many of the restaurant employees. It was in the mid-1980s before we had full time staff hired for the peanut side of the business. Today, we provide sample bags of peanuts for diners in the restaurant. The Diner is a whole entity, you can’t have one without the other.

APC: Is the mail order peanut business larger than the restaurant business, and when did this occur?

CE: The peanut side is about 80% of our sales now. Peanuts became a larger business in the mid-1980s. We printed our first "catalog" in 1984. Prior to that, we mailed letters with order forms and yellow envelope –sized cards with our products on them.

APC: What kinds of peanuts do you use and what are some of your top selling products?

CE: We use only super extra-large Virginia peanuts and we have a production facility for most of our products. The salted peanuts are our best sellers, followed by the double dipped chocolate peanuts and butter toasted peanuts.

APC: Are Virginia Diner peanuts sold nationwide?

CE: Yes, but pockets of the business are in large metropolitan areas. We sell to resellers (particularly on the west coast due to shipping costs), internet sales, corporate gifts, home buyers and fundraising groups.

APC: Who developed your tag line, "A Legend in a Nutshell since 1929", which your firm has lived up to?

CE: My father, now deceased, was a visionary. He came up with the tag line, as well as first naming our product gourmet. He received a phone call from Moscow back in 1977. The ambassador wanted our Virginia super extra-large salted peanuts shipped to him for a banquet. My father said that if our peanuts were being served alongside caviar and champagne, then by God we were gourmet!

APC: How has APC membership helped your business?

CE: Membership has given us a wonderful source of information. It provides a resource for vendors and to our customers. Membership also provides us with educational materials, and funding for the Ag schools which assist us with various projects. And it has helped us prepare a response regarding peanut allergies in the schools when we had a school division threatening to not use our fundraiser.

APC: Anything else you would like to add?

GC: We are the oldest continually run roadside Diner in Virginia.

For more information, visit: www.vadiner.com

Virginia Diner, Inc.
322 W. Main Street
Wakefield, VA 23888

 

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