Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — He’s been asked too many times to count over the past four years.
When will Chet’s Dog House be open again?
“Very soon,” Chet Secrist finally is able to say.
Steps to re-establish the popular West Main Street diner are being taken this month. Assisted by his mom Sandy and brother Jason, Secrist has been putting in a few hours every day, assessing inventory, reconnecting with vendors and spiffing things up.
Once the menus are updated, help is hired and the place passes requisite code inspection, Chet’s Dog House will be back in the breakfast and lunch business.
“It’s quite exciting,” Secrist said last week. “I have missed it all tremendously.”
Secrist, the third-generation owner-operator of Chet’s Dog House, closed the business temporarily in May 2009, shortly after he learned he had leukemia. At 43 years old and with wife Kristen, infant daughter Brenna and toddler son Brayden all depending on him, he had to quit working and focus full-time on fighting blood cancer and its aftermath.
All along, Secrist was been determined to get his health back and get back to work. The diner business isn’t for everyone — long days on your feet and pay that’s “slightly better than a paper route” are not its selling points, he says drolly — but it’s the only business for him.
And after spending a good portion of the past four years in relative seclusion, to protect his immune system, he’s longing for diner buzz. A sizzling grill, clanking dishes and chatty customers together are joyful noise that he can’t wait to help make again.
“There’s nothing like talking to 150 people a day, and then talking to no one,” he said. “Some people are surprised when I say I’m getting back to work, but they shouldn’t be. May 6, 2009, was my last day ... and coming back has been my goal ever since.”