Food & Drink

Doozy’s Diner is a Catonsville Classic

Chef/co-owner Steve Colegrove talks favorite dishes, Southwest recipes, and his time in the industry.
—Photography by Justin Tsucalas

While attending a family wedding last year, Steve Colegrove and his wife, Stephanie, decided to fulfill a lifelong dream and purchase a diner in Catonsville.

“It literally fell into our laps,” recalls Steve, who was working as a chef at Sykesville Station in Carroll County at the time. “Stephanie’s aunt approached us and said, ‘Would you be interested in taking over Dusenberg’s American Cafe and Grill? It’s closing.’ She just happened to know the guy who was selling the building. We immediately said yes.”

After some minor renovations, by August 2022, the diner—dubbed “Doozy’s Diner” as an homage to its predecessor—opened its doors. The menu features classic American diner food, plus fare with a Southwestern spin.

Unlike some diners, Doozy’s is only open for breakfast and lunch. “In this industry, it’s tough to find an opportunity where you can be home with your girls at night,” says Steve, the father of two young daughters. “This just seemed like the perfect idea.”

In addition to the gentler hours, breakfast is also the Catonsville couple’s favorite meal of the day. “I know it sounds corny,” says Steve, “but I love breakfast. Working a lot of nights as a chef, breakfast was the only chance I got to see my wife and we’d go out on dates to a diner. Diners have always been a special thing to us.”

Why did diner food appeal to you?
We felt like we wanted a diner because it’s so wide open. You can go to Double T Diner and get souvlaki, but diner food can be whatever you want it to be. For us, we wanted to do a Southwest thing, but we can have dan dan noodles as a special and it wouldn’t be weird. In opening a diner, we felt like we wouldn’t have to pigeonhole our creativity.

What are your favorite menu items?
My favorite thing in the whole wide world is my grandma Mary Lou’s green chili stew, which is on the menu. I also love the stacked enchiladas, which are like, “If I’m on death row, that’s my last meal.”

Why Southwest specialties?
My grandma is from Albuquerque and my dad and stepmom live in Santa Fe. The Southwest has always been very important to us. A lot of restaurants around here do breakfast burritos, but they’re not very good. We use Hatch chiles that are grown in New Mexico, which have a ton of flavor, and we use solid, authentic ingredients from Hatch Valley in northern New Mexico in our food. In fact, as a kid, my grandma had shelves and clothing racks in her basement with red chile peppers drying.

What was your first job in hospitality?
I waited tables at a restaurant in Ellicott City called Bippy’s Pub when I was 15. I don’t know that I have the social graces to work in front of the restaurant now at 34—and 15-year-old me certainly didn’t have them. After six months and spilling three glasses of wine on one customer, they discovered I was terrible at it, and they put me in the kitchen to wash dishes. I’ve been in the kitchen ever since.