Some of the tales of Black Bear Diner’s early days explain it best. Dean and Manley met in the late 1980s when they decided to build a subdivision together. Dean, an industry veteran, then had the inkling to open a restaurant. Manley came up with the concept.
He was the ultimate Mount Shasta local—a coach’s kid who brought home milkshakes from the corner store. And when he was 12, Manley had a run-in with a bear that left him with a bear-claw necklace he still wears today.
The first morning of business, Dean sweated away in the kitchen while Manley charmed guests. For the ensuing 38 days, the duo worked open to close, for 16 hours a day, without ever cutting a paycheck.
Famously, they would raid the restaurant’s jukebox on Mondays and pay themselves in quarters. Each lost 40 pounds along the way. This kind of dishrags-to-riches story is pretty common in the restaurant industry. The owners sticking around 104 units later, however, is not.