Just Joel’s cafe to open in Kennewick
Just Joel’s Cafe was an instant hit when it opened in an old drive-in on West Kennewick Avenue.
The tiny diner, helmed by owner-chef Joel Watson, specializes in breakfast, pie and lunch standards like soup, sandwiches and burgers.
Within a year it was the Tri-City Herald’s People’s Choice winner for best breakfast.
Now, Just Joel’s has added dinner.
It’s just one night a week — Fridays — but could lead to more later.
Watson said he’s been inundated with requests to expand. He’s unwilling to grow physically, so he opted to add hours.
“People keep talking about needing a bigger location,” he said. “I’m not changing my recipe. This is my recipe.”
He added staff, training them during the slow days of winter. But the menu is unchanged.
“Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner?” he said. “Breakfast is my favorite meal.”
Just Joel’s is now open seven days a week. Hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day but Fridays. Friday hours extend to 9 p.m.
The new hours debut April 26, with an informal gathering of classic car enthusiasts.
If it goes well, Watson said he will consider adding more nights to the calendar. Looking ahead, Watson said he will add family-friendly concerts when the summer warms up.
“I want to do something for the kids,” he said.
Just Joel’s opened in November 2017 in a tiny drive-in best known as one of those restaurant spots that never lasts. It had been used as a sandwich shop, bakery, barbecue restaurant and food bank in the past.
Watson said he was committed to bringing a comfy restaurant to the east Kennewick neighborhood where he lives and grew up.
To open Just Joel’s, he teamed with partner Marcus Hoffman to renovate the old spot into a comfortable 22-seat gathering place with a “kitchen table vibe.”
Follow Just Joel’s on Facebook @justjoelscafe