DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — A bare patch of land at one of the busiest corners in Marble Falls, a hungry electrician wrapping up his work and a question all came together in such a way that Lee’s Diner became the town’s first food-trailer restaurant.
John Gigliotti laughed at how he and his wife, Jeannie, recently opened Lee’s Diner at the corner of Mission Hill Drive and U.S. 281. And, yeah, it’s a restaurant packed into a silver trailer.
“Shane Stewart and Eddie Askew, who are the landlords there, had stopped by the property when the electrician was wrapping up some work, and he told them he was hungry and was going to get something to eat,” Gigliotti said. “When they asked him where he was going, the guy told them over to our Spicewood restaurant, Lee’s Almost By the Lake.”
One of the two stopped in at Lee’s Almost By the Lake, owned by the Gigliottis, and struck up a conversation. Eventually, a question was posed to John: “Would he be interested in putting a food trailer at the Mission Hill location?”
The couple already had a background in the food-trailer business with Jeannie opening their first one about six years ago in Austin. The Marble Falls location made perfect sense to John. A high-traffic spot took care of a great deal of the marketing.
So, in March, they moved a long, 50-foot silver trailer onto the spot and began cooking.
“The response has been great,” John said. “We love it. One of the things we have at (Lee’s Almost By the Lake) is great customers. They’re friendly and really like what we do there. And we’re finding the same type of customers here. Everybody is just so friendly.”
John and his family, including two now-adult sons, had lived in the Marble Falls area for several years before moving about six years ago, so they knew the community.
When Lee’s Diner in Marble Falls first opened, John said he was pretty sure it would be well-received because of its uniqueness. Soon, however, the staff discovered a strong fanbase for the food, too.
And making good food, John explained, is what keeps people returning for more and telling others about the diner.
“Some people first stopped by because this is new for Marble Falls, but they are coming back because of the food,” he said.
Lee’s Diner features a selection of burgers (including turkey and veggie), hot dogs and other mainstays. But the gyros and Philly cheesesteak are catching the attention of a lot of folks’ tastebuds.
“Yeah, they are flying out the door,” John said with a smile.
The food trailer is fairly new to Marble Falls but has been growing by leaps and bounds in Austin. Jeannie started one six years ago in Austin about the time the idea of food trailers began catching on. John said that trailer was among the few that helped fuel the wave of the current tide of food trailers that now populate the Austin area.
The move to Spicewood came a few years later as Jeannie was using Lee’s Almost By the Lake as a place to do some prep and finish work. At some point, the owner of the two-decade-old establishment approached Jeannie and John about buying it.
And they did.
Now, their two adult sons run the Austin trailer, and they’re lining up a nephew to help with the Marble Falls trailer.
On top of that, John said, they have a great staff that’s really getting into the flow of things in Marble Falls.
“We’re really moving now,” he said about getting the food cooked and out the door. And they do take it out the door. Each order is hand-delivered by one of the crew as patrons wait, some sitting at the chairs and tables outside the trailer.
One of the things people might have noticed is the parking lot isn’t very big, so it can fill up fast. John pointed out there are a couple of ways to get around this issue, both for the staff and customers. First, people can park on Avenue K just around the corner and walk a few more feet.
The other option is people can call ahead, place the order over the phone, and the crew will let them know when it will be ready.
“So, when they walk up to the window and pay, they’ll get their food and won’t have to wait,” John said.
Or, if the customer pays for it over the phone using a credit card, a crew member will walk it out to the patron’s vehicle and hand it right to him or her.
“That way, they can be on their way,” John added.
Whether walk-up, call-in or pull-in, folks enjoy some great food and a unique Highland Lakes eating experience.
“We’re glad to be here,” John said. “So, everybody just come on by and check us out. I think once folks do, they’ll be back.”
Call (830) 220-4722 to place an order or for more information. The hours are 11a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.