South St. Louis diner celebrates 45th birthday

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– For the last 45 years, Miss Jo Alma Houston has been an integral part of South St. Louis.

“My Mom had a vision or idea that she wanted to do something better for the family as far as putting the kids through school and just a better life,” says youngest son Gregory Houston.

When she opened Diner’s Delight off South Compton in 1969 it was carryout only, serving Chinese food.

“You know back in the 70′s it was kind of unheard of for an African American to have their own business,” says Houston.  “It was a small little business and it was a struggle.”

Photos on the wall, tell the story of the Houston family and those in the neighborhood who call it home.

“I’ve photographed all of the South side parties and reunions they would have,” says family friend and photographer Maurice Meredith.  “Things that would happen in the city period I`ve done it for the past 35 years.”

Last year the heart and soul of this soul food restaurant suffered an aneurism.

It brought the family closer together and today Miss Jo Alma’s six children honored their Mom’s tireless work.

On the restaurant’s 45th birthday they served $4.50 lunches and dinners and talked about the lessons learned along the way.

“Treat the customers nice and they will always come back,” says oldest son Herman Houston.  “Be honest and fair, come in and do a good hard day’s work.  At the end of the day it pays off.”

Unless, of course, someone wasn’t listening to their dear old mom.

“If you mess up too many times it would be taken out of your paycheck,” laughs Herman.  “That’s your discipline.  You be messing up profits.”

And you don’t get a 45 year old recipe for success without making it a family affair.