The saying ‘if you build it, they will come’ might work well for a feel-good baseball story, but Nanaimo restaurant owner Frank Naccarato knows it takes more than the venue to fill the seats at a restaurant.
“Nanaimo is a tough market and there are a lot of the same kinds of restaurants,” Naccarato said.
After owning a popular franchise restaurant, Naccarato decided it was time to start fresh in the same location and opened Frankie’s Modern Diner last September.
“We saw an opportunity to switch it up and do something that is popular in other areas but not as popular in Nanaimo,” he said.
Frankie’s Modern Diner is located directly across from Woodgrove Mall and specializes in modern diner cuisine. The restaurant also strives to cook from scratch as much as possible, and the owners pride themselves on using local ingredients.
“Food has been around for as long as we’ve been around,” Naccarato said. “You can only reinvent it so many ways and part of our mission is to give you that comfort food that you crave and love, just like grandma used to make.”
After only being in business for a little more than nine months, Frankie’s Modern Diner has been selected as the Best of the City’s Best Restaurant Overall.
“It is a nice surprise to be recognized for all our hard work,” Naccarato said. “I’ve never worked in a restaurant where we get such great feedback and people appreciate what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and the way we’re going about doing it.”
Naccarato, who’s background is Italian, explained that he wanted to create a restaurant that went back to the basics of cooking great food.
“I remember mom’s lasagna, mom’s meatballs, mom’s tomato sauce and how simple and how good it was,” Naccarato said. “Mom didn’t cook with 17 things. She cooked with basic ingredients and made them fresh and made them with love and that’s what we try to do here at Frankie’s.”
Frankie’s also uses as many locally grown ingredients as it can. Naccarato said that the eggs come from Ladysmith, while the meats come from Abbotsford. They get their baked goods from various places on the Island.
With more people becoming aware of what they’re eating, Naccarato said that Frankie’s recognizes the importance of gluten-free options and organically grown foods.
“I think it is the important thing,” Naccarato said, about being aware of people’s gluten sensitivities. “Organic food is growing and knowing what you’re eating is growing.”
Naccarato said he is proud of how hard all of his staff members have worked since the restaurant opened in September and the Best of City award reflects their efforts.
“They say if you work hard enough it will come,” Naccarato said. “Me and my team have never worked so hard to get this place open and get it going and keep it going.”
Frankie’s Modern Diner is located on 6750 Island Hwy N. To make a reservation, please call 250-933-3281 or visit www.frankiesmoderndiner.com.