MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The owner of an iconic diner is thankful for a donation she says is helping save her business.

The Ideal Diner has been a staple in Northeast for more than 72 years but has struggled to keep its doors open during the pandemic.

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The diner has survived on take out only since last March and this safety net is providing hope for a brighter future.

(credit: CBS)

“I have not had anybody in here since the beginning of COVID,” said Kim Robinson.

The pandemic has left the Ideal Diner longing for its customers.

“Tt’s getting where something — I mean, we’re barely hanging on,” said Robinson.

Robinson says the space is cozy but it’s not good during a time when being close is taboo.

“It’s 14 stools, there is just no safe way to social distance in here,” said Robinson.

So it’s only been take out for regulars.

“Who would’ve ever thought the diner would’ve had a take-out window?” Robinson said.

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Leaving Robinson struggling to make ends meet.

“I’ve done everything I can as an owner to keep this place going. I’ve kept my people on, I’ve kept payroll going. Reduced hours. Everything that everybody has done in this industry,” said Robinson.

One of her employees follows Dave Portnoy, the head of Barstool Sports, who encouraged the diner owner to make a video telling him how much money is needed to keep the business open.

When Portnoy himself responded saying the Ideal Diner is one of 262 businesses across the country his Barstool Fund is helping she knew this 72-year-old part of Northeast would have a chance at surviving these tough times.

“It’s unbelievable. It’s a little safety net. It’ll keep us going,” Robinson said.

Portnoy’s people will check on the Ideal Diner monthly, to make sure it has all it needs to stay open.

She gives credit to the employees who have stood by her and the diner since day one.

“They’ve come to work through all this, tried to support the customers just to cheer them up, to let them know we’ll get through this,” said Robinson.

Robinson’s bond to this business is strong. She was a waitress for 30 years before buying the Ideal Diner eight years ago.

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Her mother, who passed away last May, was a waitress there for 50 years.

Reg Chapman