The little diner that could is chugging along once again. The Boxcar Grill is moving to Sixth Avenue. They expect to reopen later this week or next.
The story of Boxcar Grill began last year at Freighthouse Square. Daughter-mother team Liz and Velda Gilham opened their diner last July and began a months-long struggle of closures and openings that lasted months. There were facility problems – the hot water went south, the walk-in cooler tanked and the heating system stumbled. The Gilhams reopened for what they hoped was the last time in mid-January, but it lasted just a handful of months. Construction blocked their entrance and they had to close again when a new sidewalk was poured.
Frustrated by the cycle of closures, the Gilhams went looking for another space, which they found at Sixth and Orchard in a strip-mall storefront that formerly housed Happy Dragon, a Chinese restaurant that closed a few months ago. The Gilhams closed Boxcar Grill July 16 to prepare for the move.
Liz Gilham said the family struggled with the decision to leave their Freighthouse home. They believe the new space will be better for their volume and style of diner cooking. The problem with running a diner? There’s never enough griddle space. “We’re going from a nine-foot cooking space to a 22 foot cooking space,” said Liz Gilham, who manages the restaurant. Her mother, Velda, is the baker and jam maker.
They’ll serve the same menu of American classics, Gilham said, but with a few additions – a chicken fried steak sandwich, burgers, more daily specials and more pastries and desserts baked by Velda. The house-made raspberry freezer jam will still be served with every breakfast, but they’ll also make a mixed berry freezer jam because they’ll have more fridge space to store it.
The Boxcar Grill
New address: 5104 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Contact: 253-503-0098 or theboxcargrill.com