Since 1983, Great American Entertainment Company, owned by David and Dianne Linderman, has been providing petting zoos, pony rides and cooking shows all over the country.
“We are the number one in the country for 38 years,” Dianne said. “We are the stars in the fair and rodeo industry.”
Eight days into the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the arena closed due to COVID-19.
“We do about 60-70 fairs a year, so when we heard the news, we just sat there and stared at each other because all the fairs up to September have been canceled right now and that was 100 percent of our income,” Dianne said.
The Linderman’s used to own three award-winning restaurants, one of which was on an organic farm and was written in Sunset Magazine as “one of the best places to eat in Oregon.”
The couple decided to reinvent their business and opened Dianne’s Ranch Diner.
“It’s super on the healthy side of comfort food. We grow all of our own vegetables, make things really decadent. I have four cookbooks that I've written, where I have all of my simple, healthy, delicious recipes,” she said. “I don’t use any crummy oils or carbohydrates. I don’t use any white sugar, white flour...I use coconut oil if I do any kind of sautéing. I've actually lost 35 pounds eating my own natural foods. We put the highest quality ingredients in everything we make.”
Dianne’s Ranch Diner is a drive-through restaurant located on the Linderman’s Ranch at 5396 South U.S. Highway 281. The food is baked and then instantly frozen.
“It’s been working out amazingly,” Dianne said. “We’ve got 1,000 likes in a week, and I'm kind of shocked because I didn’t think anything could ever happen that fast, but it’s really wonderful. The community is helping us and I feel like we’re helping the community.”
The Linderman's will soon start taking bookings for Kids Can Cook where Dianne will teach eight kids at a time how to cook two items for breakfast and two items for lunch. Classes will start on July 11 and will run every Saturday.
Dianne said they hope to open a petting farm in the near future as well as a wedding venue.
“We have beautiful ponds that we can set up some beautiful, rustic weddings,” she said. “We do have a lot of really cool stuff that people can use for their weddings. I have a 1910 Chuck Wagon that is just beautiful. We’re going to set all that stuff up for the next five months starting in about two to three weeks. We’re getting ready for it.”
Dianne used to run a nationally syndicated radio show for 15 years by the name of “Everything that Matters.” She hopes to start a podcast soon under the same name to inspire individuals to pivot and reinvent themselves.
“I’ve also written a series of books called ‘How to Become an Entreprenurial Kid.’ My kids are grown up now but they were radical entrepreneurs. It really saved who they are,” she said. “They really understand about life, but now is the time when we all need to have that entrepreneurial spirit, reinvent yourself, find out what you're made of and don’t be afraid to try things.”
FROM TROUBLED TEENS TO BUSINESS PARTNERS
The Linderman's raised many troubled teenagers who are now fully grown adults and have kids of their own. They also help Dianne and David run the Great American Entertainment Company.
“They’re our partners. They came to us when they were 15 and now, they have kids. We all just came together on this partnership and made it work, so that’s why we can do what we’re doing,” Dianne said. “We have a lot of good help; they’re owners in it.”
FINDING A HOME IN STEPHENVILLE
The Linderman's are originally from Oregon and one day, decided to move to Texas on account of how many shows they perform around the state of Texas each year.
“The way we found Stephenville is a funny story,” Dianne said. “One day, I got out the map and said, ‘I'm going to close my eyes and I'm going to point and wherever my finger lands, that's where we’re going to move.’ I landed on Stephenville, Texas.”
Which, Dianne feels, was a blessing in disguise.
“I've never not loved this place,” she said. “When I first came here, I just felt, ‘My gosh, we are home.’ I felt it and everything fell into place. Here we are, happy as heck. I always say God works in mysterious ways and I'm not going to doubt what he’s doing.”
FROM DREAM TO SUCCESS
For over six years, the Linderman's have made their home in Stephenville with their entertainment company, but now they have a restaurant to tend to.
“I love kids, I love cooking and I love animals and that’s sort of what we are doing right now. It’s always been my dream to have a place where I didn’t have to leave Stephenville,” Dianne said. “I came up with the idea literally four or five weeks ago. Within three weeks, we had a website built and we had the marketing.
“People get the feeling when they come through here, how much we love what we do and that’s what it comes down to. I'm not afraid of failure. It’s how you deal with failure that makes or breaks a person, and you have to learn how to use it to your advantage. Failure is an attitude – that’s what I always tell everybody.”
For more information, visit https://www.diannesdiner.com/ or http://www.greatamericanpettingzoo.com/.