Sales from ‘Ladybird, Collected’ will help local diner continue its free meal program

photo by: Lauren Fox

Ladybird Diner owner Meg Heriford is pictured in her restaurant on Oct. 7. Her book, "Ladybird, Collected," is scheduled to come out on Oct. 9.

A soon-to-be-released collection of stories about Ladybird Diner doesn’t have a neat ending, according to the author and diner owner Meg Heriford, but the sales from the book will help the restaurant continue its story.

“I say that the book is sort of the means to its own ending,” Heriford said in a Wednesday interview.

Proceeds from Heriford’s upcoming book, “Ladybird, Collected,” will fund the diner’s community lunch program, which has been running throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, providing free meals to those in need. Each book, which costs $24.99, will help fund four meals. The community meals are given out Mondays through Fridays at 11 a.m. at the diner, 721 Massachusetts Street.

Sometimes, Heriford said, they run out of meals within 15 or 20 minutes. When that’s the case, and if there are more mouths to be fed, Heriford said they always try to put some extra meals together with anything they have. Meals vary from biscuits and gravy to club sandwiches to chili with a side of a freshly baked cinnamon roll.

“I wish I could explain how much it means to be able to serve lunch and fill boxes of food for folks right now,” Heriford posted on the diner’s Facebook page in mid-June. “How it’s changed everything. How it’s transformed my vision for what we will be moving forward, blending what we were in the Before Times and what we are now.”

Toward the end of July, however, Heriford realized that funds were running low.

“The need for community meals had not diminished at all throughout the summer. It had only built,” she said. “So it felt important to kind of gather whatever resources I had to keep those meals going, and this is what I had.”

“Ladybird, Collected” is a compilation of social media posts from Heriford’s six years running the diner. It includes profiles of people who have worked there and eaten there and stories about Heriford’s experiences owning a small business.

“I was always looking for a way to talk about things that weren’t pie or cheeseburgers…I was always looking for ways to pull the curtain back and show people what really happens in here,” Heriford said of her social media posts. “So I kind of already had a collection of these that had been released publicly on social media platforms. But I had no intention of ever publishing them on paper.”

photo by: Lauren Fox

Ladybird Diner is pictured on Oct. 7.

In August, Heriford gathered her social media posts, saw what kind of story arc they formed and then wrote some transitions. When asked how long the book took her to write, Heriford responded, “Well, I would say that it took one month,” Heriford paused, “and six years.”

“Ladybird, Collected” will also take readers through Heriford’s experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said the posts she included from the spring and summer show a closer snapshot “of who I am.”

For over six months, Heriford’s diner was closed to all operations except the community lunch program and pantry box program, which provides free grocery staples to those in need. It was just this Wednesday, Oct. 7, that Heriford and the team at Ladybird Diner began selling their pies once more via an online ordering system.

photo by: Lauren Fox

Meg Heriford works on her diner’s pie orders. Oct. 7 was the first day the diner began selling pies again following the closure of the restaurant due to COVID-19.

Heriford hopes “Ladybird, Collected” will help readers recognize how invested small businesses are in their communities.

“We recognize that it can’t just be anyone sitting there eating a cheeseburger,” she said. “It’s special that it was you. I see you; I don’t see the dollars.”

Heriford enjoyed the compilation process, she said, but noted that it was “hard to look at those moments and know that they are gone, and that it’s not likely that we are going to be able to open the doors in that way anytime soon.” She called the experience bittersweet, and also said that it was gratifying to know she had taken the time to write down the stories of her diner as they occurred.

Heriford hopes the sales from “Ladybird, Collected” will help raise enough money to keep the community lunch program going through the winter.

“Ladybird, Collected” is self-published, but the University Press of Kansas offered to help Heriford with formatting and outsourced the printing costs, Heriford said, noting the generosity. The book was slated for printing this week and is scheduled to come out Friday, Oct. 9, but Heriford said that because of delays the books might not be available until next week.

“Ladybird, Collected” can be purchased at or through The Raven Book Store. All proceeds from The Raven’s sales of the book will also go to fund the community lunch program. Heriford is also accepting donations to the Ladybird Pantry at

photo by: Lauren Fox

Ladybird Diner owner Meg Heriford is pictured in her restaurant on Oct. 7.


Welcome to the new Our old commenting system has been replaced with Facebook Comments. There is no longer a separate username and password login step. If you are already signed into Facebook within your browser, you will be able to comment. If you do not have a Facebook account and do not wish to create one, you will not be able to comment on stories.