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Julian diner embraces snow and the business rush it brings

Miner's Diner in Julian
Posted at 8:00 AM, Feb 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-09 11:00:59-05

JULIAN, Calif. (KGTV) — The snow is such a popular attraction that draws in many San Diegans to the county’s version of a “winter wonderland,” and that is in the town of Julian.

For the Miner’s Diner restaurant on Main Street, when the snow comes, it means “go time.”

Miner’s Diner has all the nostalgic decor showing Julian's history through its novelties, going from the gold rush to golden pies.

However, when the snow falls all over town, it's even better for business.

Fred Dornon, owner of Miner's Diner, said, "This is typically our slow season, so when it snows, it brings a lot of people up."

The snow has caused some road closures this week, but customers are still strolling in, and Dornon refuses to let his employees miss out on their gold rush.

"A lot of employees don’t have a four-wheel drive, so I’ll just go get them in my Jeep. I’m just like the taxi service," Dornon said. "They make their money from tips, and this is a very good time for them so we’re like we have to be running; this is when we have to be ready to go."

Dornon added that a few of their top sellers that pair well with the snow are their hot soups, chilis, hot cocoa, and hot cider.

Dornon said the diner sees a spike in one particular customer when it snows: kids.

"A lot of times, families are bringing their kids up for their first experience in the snow," Dornon said.

One of the kids visiting Julian for the first time is Ashley Mancisidor, who came from San Marcos with her family.

"We've always wanted to go to Julian, so why not at least one day? And then, we heard there were snowy conditions, and we've never been to the snow," Mancisidor said. "We wanted to come here [Miner's Diner] specifically because we heard that they're famous for their apple pies."

With the snow, Miner's Diner is also seeing a lot of return customers like landscape photographer Mark Rufenacht.

Rufenacht came to town to photograph Lake Cuyamaca and to grab his usual order.

"I’ve been here before, and I was looking for a nice hometown diner," Rufenacht said. "My wife is vegetarian, so any chance I get to have bacon, I have bacon.

For tourists heading up to Julian this weekend, here are a few key reminders to help the town out:

  • Pack it in, pack it out: If you bring things into the mountains, make sure you bring it out! Don't leave your trash, broken sleds, etc in the mountains.
  • Be aware of where you park/sled: Be mindful of private property (including an area cemetery).
  • Be prepared: Bring chains, make sure your gas tank is full, bring emergency food/supplies in case you get stuck, have your phones charged, etc.