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San Diego's Studio Diner reopens after long closure

A San Diego classic that's been on a two-year hiatus calls "action" on its reopening Monday.

SAN DIEGO — A popular local diner that has been closed since the start of the pandemic reopens its doors Monday. Studio Diner in Kearny Mesa is a favorite among San Diegans and tourists.

They cut service in 2020 due to the pandemic and two years later the kitchen is getting to roll again to serve up its elevated diner classics.

Before the closure, when you drove by Studio Diner on Ruffin Road in Kearny Mesa, the parking lot would be filled with cars and inside it was stuffed with diners but for the past two years the chairs were put up and the tables have been empty.

On Thursday, in the kitchen cooks were greasing their skills.

“I'm bouncing off the walls. Sitting down at a desk is not my thing. It's part of my job but once I got the go ahead to bring people in, start prepping and get things going it just changed everything,” said John Leonard, Studio Diner, head of the kitchen.

During the two-year hiatus during the pandemic Leonard cooked up some new ideas on how to elevate the typical diner menu.

“We are making our own meats here now brisket and corn beef and short rib,” said Leonard.

While the sequel will have its classics such as clams and lobster rolls flown in from Maine.

“More quality, more home driven like a diner should be and it gives great quality for the people out front,” said Leonard.

Diners were salivating last year when Studio Diner had planned to reopen but they cut those plans for fear they would have to close again.

They didn’t have rent and they had the production company to help pay the bills so they waited.

“We are lucky enough to that is on our land to do that so we just wanted to be patient and then at the right time we wanted to reopen and make sure that we stayed open,” said Cory Segall, Studio Diner, co-owner.

He is the son of Stu Segall who likes to remain behind the scenes.

The story of Studio Diner takes us back to our CBS 8 archives when the late Larry Himmel featured the diner when it opened in 2003, right on the edge of Stu Segall Productions. It was meant to be a Hollywood meets East Coast deli.

Since then Food Network's Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives has dropped by and put them on the map.

Now the buzz is all about reopening.

“We hear a lot of scuttlebutt on the street but we really don't know what to expect,” said Leonard.

Friday will be Studio Diner's pilot with their friends and family and the premier next week. 

“I grew up here since I was 18, I'm 37 now and it's been half of my life and I'm glad to have my family come back here, I'm glad to have my friends back here and the community,” said Segall.

WATCH RELATED THROWBACK: Studio Diner opens in San Diego in 2003 

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