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Photo by Alison James Phil Campbell’s Stanley Gilliland has purchased Fatty Shack, formerly Mrs. D’s, and rebranded as Blue’s Diner.

Fatty Shack becomes Blue’s Diner

Stanley Gilliland is a newcomer to the restaurant business, technically, but not a newcomer to business in general. He’s drawing on years of experience waiting tables, working in a college cafeteria, managing a slate of rental properties and the degrees he holds in business and accounting to inform his restaurant management strategy – revamping the Fatty Shack in Phil Campbell as Blue’s Diner.

Gilliland took over the Fatty Shack (formerly Mrs. D’s) March 28. He’s made significant investment into the business already, installing a new water heater, air conditioner, stovetop and other appliances, along with putting the hot bar back into operation. He said he’s also putting a focus on adequate staffing and keeping stocked with plenty of food and supplies, as well as concentrating on cleanliness and great atmosphere.

Three cooks keep the kitchen running, and three or four other employees are on hand to provide service. “We hope to grow and add more,” Gilliland said.

He said he’s getting good feedback on the changes he’s made, like adding a plate lunch six days a week, featuring meat-and-three, drink and dessert for $8 – along with now-standard menu items like loaded backed potatoes and Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. “They’re really bragging on the food,” he said. “People are happy.”

Gilliland maintains a personal presence at the restaurant four to six hours a day. “I love it,” he said. “I’ve got something to look forward to.”

The restaurant is named after a Chihuahua that belonged to Gilliland’s wife, who has since passed away. Blue was the first in what became a long line of pet Chihuahuas for the Gillilands, ­ who now have eight – their story was featured in the most recent edition of Franklin Living. “The name has just been a hit,” Gilliland said.

Blue’s Diner is open Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. “The Liars Club” – every good ol’ Southern restaurant has one – meets up each morning to have breakfast and swap tales, Gilliland said. “The key to success is carrying on a bunch of foolishness,” Gilliland joked.