Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Once a week, the basement of an old Duluth school turns into a restaurant. The lunch served, is helping break stigmas associated with mental illness.
At the Palace Diner, regulars will tell you, the food is hearty and the conversation is good.
The push to get food on the table begins at 9 a.m. each Wednesday.
Palace Diner opens at 11:30, and lunch goers will tell you, they've been waiting.
"The food is wonderful. It's probably the closest you'll come to gourmet in Duluth," Joan Peterson, a regular said.
Good food and a unique location aren't the only things that make this place a hot spot for lunch.
The cooks, servers, and cashiers at Palace Diner are members of Harmony Club and many are living with a mental illness.
"Some of the people don't understand what mental illness people are," Nancy Jones, a Harmony Club member said.
But Palace Diner is breaking the stigmas that come with mental illness.
"With this environment, my mental health doesn't kick in," Jones said.
Jones preps the food at Palace Diner and works as a cashier. Without this to look forward to each week, she says she'd be a different person.
"I wouldn't come out of my apartment as much as I do now,” she said. “I wouldn't have the friends I have now. The friends I have here, is my family."
Regulars say they've been dining each week for years.
It's another testament to the friendships being formed.
"If someone is sick, customers will bring get-well cards,” Jason Johnson, Club Project Coordinator with Harmony Club said. “People ask about each other all the time. It builds some fantastic relationships."
"It's a good interaction between us and them,” Dave Adams, a regular said. “We feel like it's not us and them, we are one group."
The Palace Diner is located in the Community Action Duluth building in Lincoln Park.
Swedish meatballs with gravy is on the lunch menu next Wednesday.