Soldotna restaurant gives back to patrons

Posted: Tuesday, December 24, 2002

More than 150 patrons of Sal's Klondike Diner in Soldotna walked out without paying Thursday and no one was complaining.

For the fourth year in a row, Sally Hoskins, proprietor, treated everyone to a free lunch buffet that included ham, turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, three different salads, brownies and homemade Christmas cookies.

"I talked about doing it for years," said Hoskins, who has owned the 100-seat restaurant for 25 years.

"And I finally decided, let's do it," she said Friday.

"It's a Christmas present," said Hoskins' son, Andy Kriner, who helps with the business and operates Buckets Sports Grill, also in Soldotna.

Everyone who walked into the restaurant for lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Thursday -- whether a regular customer or first-time guest -- received the treat.

According to restaurant manager Ted Sisson, who has worked for Sal's for 11 years, 96 pounds of turkey were served as well as three 10-pound hams and 75 pounds of potatoes.

One customer, a regular who has been coming to Sal's nearly every day for about three years, did voice one complaint.

"I ate too much yesterday," said Randy Colbenson on Friday.

"I hurt when I left out of here."

Perry Cannon, who said he's been coming to the diner every day for 20 years, said the buffet was excellent.

"This is a very nice place to eat," he said. "Here, you get full."

Hoskins, who moved to Alaska from Lewiston, Idaho, in 1975, said she feels fortunate to live in a place like Soldotna.

"This is a wonderful place to live," she said.

"We have a lot of customers who have been coming here for 25 years. Many come up in the summer and head back down in winter. I remember one who told me he was halfway up the Alcan Highway and could only think of gettin' back to Sal's."

Hoskins also is proud of the fact that several employees have worked at the diner for more than 10 years and said all five of her children have worked for the business, as have 10 of her 15 grandchildren.

"We employ 40 to 90 people, depending on the time of year," she said.

"And we're open 24 hours a day, every day except Christmas."

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