A Long and Winding Road
City Diner was founded by Peter Spoto. Born in Saint Louis to Sicilian parents on August 15th, 1948. Peter grew up in the Holly Hills neighborhood. A Catholic upbringing, he went to High School at the all-boys St. Mary’s on Grand Ave. After graduating from college at SIUE he moved to Alaska, working in various restaurants until landing a cooking job at a camp for pipeline workers near Valdez. Feeding two hundred pipe fitters, he developed a passion for service and many of the skills he’d later apply to City Diner.
Three years after the birth of his daughter, Sophia; Peter moved back to Saint Louis. Inspired by Sophia as well as his Alaskan experiences, he resolved to take his restaurant career forward. Looking for something to call his own and eventually leave to his daughter he decided to start a diner on South Grand.
City Diner South Grand originally started in the old Pearl and Ray’s Diner. A funky time capsule that was just waiting for a new start. With some hard work, and help from his parents, Peter joined the Vietnamese restaurants in revitalizing South Grand. The restaurant turned out to be a hit. Eventually outgrowing the original location and moving into the old Dickman Bakery next door. In 2003 a gut-rehab and move grew the Diner from 85 seats to 240.
City Diner is a true Saint Louis success story. Joining with other businesses, community leaders, and residents in restoring, rebuilding, and feeding a great American city. A product of the sixties, Peter is dedicated to creating a space for everyone to feel comfortable and welcome. Not making a restaurant that looks retro, but bringing the values and culture of the mid-century well into the 21st.