I just got an item into the collection I did not know existed. It is an old matchbook cover from a pivotal diner from my youth, the Star Lite Diner, Worcester Lunch Car # 817, delivered in 1948 to its one and only operating address of 383 Mystic Avenue, Medford, Mass. It closed circa 1968 and was removed shortly thereafter reportedly to a salvage yard in Chelsea, Mass. I was totally surprised and happy to get this rare piece into the collection.
Back in May the Prospect Mountain Diner of Lake George, NY had a devastating fire. It was a 1950 vintage double-wide Silk City diner in almost original condition at the time of the fire. The diner was so badly damaged it was immediately torn down. Art Leonhard, who had owned the diner since the late 1960’s had attempted to locate a suitable used diner to replace what he lost and finally settled on a brand-new Diner-Mite diner. Although I particularly am not fond of Diner-Mite’s product, a new Diner-Mite is better than no diner at all. The new diner was projected to be finished and ready for delivery by October but as these things go it looks more like the early part of December as reported in the November 26, 2007 Glens Falls Post Star. The Mayor of Lake George is quoted as saying there will be some sort of celebration when the new diner is delivered although scaled down from the original plan for a parade as the weather is too cold now for that type of festivity.
Check out the new Diner links in the Blogroll…. Glenn Wells’ Roadside Fans website, John Baeder’s website featuring his wonderful paintings and the website for Diners: Still Cookin in the 21st Century a fantastic exhibit on the history of diners from the collection of Richard J.S. Gutman author of “American Diner Then & Now”. This exhibit is located at the Culinary Archives and Museum, Johnson & Wales Harbor Campus in Providence, RI.
Our old friend Gary Zemola, owner of the Super Duper Weenie Restaurant in Fairfield, CT bought the former DeCoven Diner last operated in Duncannon, PA (near Harrisburg) a couple of years ago. He has been slowly cleaning up and readying this stainless steel beauty for a new life in his hometown. It has been in storage in Monroe, CT since its move and Gary is almost ready to relocate it to some land behind his dad’s lighting store just off U.S. Rte. 1. This has been a dream of his for close to 20 years.
He actually bought another diner, the former Gina’s Diner from Meriden, CT a while back but never could get all the pieces to fall into place, (money & time to restore, etc.) and he ended up selling it to another buyer, it is now George & Sally’s Blue Moon Diner at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, MI.
He saw the DeCoven on ebay and was able to swing the deal but as I recall there was probably some red tape he had to get through to get it moved into the state of Connecticut. The Decoven was originally across the Susquahanna River in Harrisburg, its original name was the Harrisburg East Diner prior to relocating to Duncannon.
Gary has brought his proposal to the Zoning Board of Appeals because of some parking issues and it also would need approval from the Town Plan and Zoning Commission. He hopes to have the diner opened next year dba Zemo’s Diner.
As I stated last Sunday, the Lunch Box Diner, Worcester Lunch Car #690 was slated to appear on a new segment of Boston’s Fox 25 Morning show. It seems that every Tuesday, Fox 25 personality V.B. is, instead of shooting live from in front of the Massachusetts State House, trying something new. It is called Diner Tuesday and each week he is supposed to be visiting a local diner to do his regular spots from. This past Tuesday was the inaugural segment and it went over well! So well in fact that business has increased every day since and Scott, Kristen, Dave and the rest of the crew couldn’t be happier. There is some streaming video of the visit on Fox 25’s website. The Lunch Box Diner is located at 906 Eastern Avenue (Rte. 60) in Malden, Mass. This is my usual Sunday morning breakfast stop.
The Farmington Diner in Farmington, Maine is sort of in limbo these days as Rite Aid is slated to take the property the diner is sitting on along with 2 adjacent parcels for a new pharmacy that would replace a nearby smaller Rite Aid located in a strip-mall. The diner remains open but the owner wants to sell the diner and get it moved hopefully to live again in another location. His plans are on hold as there seems to be a delay with the pharmacy chain’s plans. Guess we will have to wait and see what happens.
Another diner, this one in New Rochelle, NY is also going to become history. The Thruway Diner, a large DeRaffele diner just off Interstate 95 is going to be torn down and replaced by a Wallgeeens. It seems that older diners are not the only ones to be threatened by development. This diner dates to 1990 when it replaced an older diner that had been there since possibly 1960, (that diner was a space-age DeRaffele with a folded-plate roof). There has been a large outcry from the local population about this and some people have started a Facebook.com page called “Save the Thruway Diner” which I have not found. Maybe someone else can find that link as I am unfamiliar with Facebook. From what I read, one of the owners was going to try to back out of the deal but had already signed the contract and now she has to honor it. It currently looks like more and more diners are disappearing for large big-box pharmacys.
Anyone in the Boston Area can see Malden’s Lunch Box Diner on Fox TV Channel 25 this coming Tuesday from 6-9 am. I had breakfast there this morning and Dave Lane (the short order cook/chef) told me the TV station had already did some taping this past week interviewing owners Scott & Kristen Drago. These taped portions will be shown (possibly as early as 5 am) along with live pieces featuring on -air personallity V.B. doing his normal segments for the local Fox morning show. Hopefully I’ll be able to catch a little of this before I go to work!