Ever wonder what it’s like owning and running a successful diner that is open 364 days a year and having three small children, one being a newborn? Meet Gina Boilini of Doc’s Diner in Key Largo for some inspiration and a good old-fashioned dose of hardworking skills and people values.
“Running and co-owning a restaurant was so far from my thoughts. It’s funny how life works out,” said Boilini when reflecting on her journey so far. “It was my 32nd birthday, and my family and I were having dinner at The Fish House when the conversation shifted to me running the diner, and I realized I was already doing it.”
Boilini, a Keys native, attended Florida State where she majored in parks & recreation services administration. After a shift in her life, she moved back to the Keys in 2009 (the same year her parents bought Doc’s Diner). Jim Boilini, AKA “Doc” and wife/mother Mary Lynn, moved to the Florida Keys in 1975. Within a few months, he opened an optometry office.
They hired a manager, Mary; however, she tragically passed away, which is when Gina ended up organically transitioning from the floor to being a manager and picking up more responsibility.
“I learned a lot from my dad,” Boilini said. “There are days when I go back and be the dishwasher. Valuing each other and what qualities they have, being a leader but not being a dictator and making sure the team knows they are valued is most important.
“I am not a cook. I am better at organization and logistics,” she continued. “Therefore, I don’t know how to cook everything on the menu. However, I do make the Key lime pie.”
With the diner open 364 days a year — does Boilini ever shut “it” off?
“I am always thinking about something in the back of my mind. Currently, it’s about increasing prices and the hash brown shortage,” she said.
Boilini said spending time on the water with her partner Frank, a successful fishing guide, and their children is the perfect day.
“I truly love what I do; it’s a constantly changing and evolving industry. If I am busy, I know that Adela at Keys Bite is busy, and Alfredo at Alfredo’s is busy. It gives me goosebumps because we support each other,” she said.
Doc’s Diner caters to locals, tourists and weekenders. Gina is grateful for all the business and is always happy to know people’s names. Most of all, she’s excited to see them return.
Doc’s Diner also recently won BPW business of the year. Doc’s Diner has a team of eight who Gina truly treasures. Their cook has been with the restaurant for 30 years, and on average all the team members have been with the diner for 10 years or more.
“Being selected as the business of the year is a huge honor because it’s representative of the community, our membership being recognized for women in leadership and supporting other women,” said Boilini, who was also BPW president for five years.
Her face lit up appreciating and mentioning the industry, her team, her family, and the other nearby restaurants, leaving no doubt that this entrepreneur, partner and superwoman mom has a passion for business and life.
Doc’s Diner is open every day from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are well known for their secret recipe pancakes and many other breakfast and lunch items.
Stop by for a delicious meal in a friendly environment as well as follow on Facebook at Doc’s Diner.