Ladybird Diner to reopen Tuesday with 'new and improved' menu

The wait is over.

Ladybird Diner will reopen Tuesday evening, restaurant owner Meg Heriford confirmed Monday.

For those of you not in the know, Ladybird was forced to shutter in March after a fire at neighbor Biggs on Mass, 719 Massachusetts St., left the building with extensive smoke and water damage.

Since then, crews have been working to restore Ladybird to its original glory and remove any unsafe traces of smoke damage.

The big event, slated for 5 to 10 p.m., will see the debut of Ladybird’s “new and improved” dinner and cocktail menu, which Heriford and her team spent fine-tuning at the former Pachamamas space this summer.

Heriford said she and her employees approached the five-month hiatus as an opportunity to take stock of what the restaurant does well and what could be improved. The dinner menu, they decided, may have been neglected in favor of the diner’s popular breakfast and lunch selections.

On the new menu, you’ll find old Ladybird favorites like meatloaf and pot pie as well as newcomers like sweet-tea pork chops (served with grits, scallions, greens and charred tomatoes) and a vegetarian squash pasole.

“We’ve got my standard, church-basement style — stuff you’d find at a family reunion or Sunday at your mom’s house — but all the flavors and textures have become more dynamic,” she says. “I’m really excited for people to see.”

In addition to the classic breakfast cocktails they’re known for (think mimosas and bloody marys), Ladybird is serving up a new batch of boozy beverages designed to complement the enhanced dinner menu, Heriford says.

That includes “staff favorite” See-Through Sundress (made with watermelon-and-mint aqua fresca, tequila and cinnamon syrup) and other summer-y creations like the gin-and-brandy-laced Admiral’s Wife (“tastes like a wonderful raspberry iced tea, but loaded with booze,” Heriford teases) and a raspberry-rhubarb cooler called Aunt Sara’s Porch Swing, named after Heriford’s real-life relative.

Still, Heriford says she’s not “reinventing the wheel” at Ladybird. The space should look how customers left it in the spring, aside from a pair of display cases for the diner’s beloved homemade pies.

And doughnuts. They’re a new — and hotly anticipated — addition to the Ladybird menu. Heriford says she’ll have anywhere from 15 to 20 varieties, from the traditional to the zany.

“I call them ‘fussy doughnuts.’ We’ve been doing a lot of weird stuff with them,” says Heriford, who built hype during the restaurant's hiatus with occasional doughnut giveaways at the Pachamamas patio. “A lot of people haven’t had cotton candy or pistachios on a doughnut before, but this town is very adventurous in their eating and I think they’re ready for something different.”

None by Ladybird Diner

But if you’re just looking for a classic glazed doughnut, Ladybird has those, too.

All proceeds from Tuesday’s dinner will benefit Douglas County CASA, Inc. — it’s a cause that’s close to Heriford’s heart, she says.

After that, the restaurant will tentatively return to regular hours (with fresh donuts and coffee available at 7 a.m. and the kitchen opening at 8 a.m.) Wednesday morning.

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