A New Favorite Website for me

I was checking out links on Rich Kummerlowe’s Under the Orange Roof website (in my blogroll) which in itself is a great place to get into Howard Johnson’s info. I found many links that peaked my interest, but one stood out! It was a blog written by Dave Aldrich called Pleasant Family Shopping. It features info about various department store chains as well as super market chains we all grew up with. 

One thing that caught my eye was a period photo of the 2nd Stop & Shop supermarket (1957) to be built in my hometown of Medford, Mass. The 1st was built in 1948 on High Street in Medford Square and was part of the first generation of in-town small super markets, the ones that were a step up from the smaller grocery stores these evolved from (there actually was at least one of these smaller Stop & Shop stores in West Medford prior to 1948). This 2nd newer location was at the Fellsway near Wellington Circle which along with a newly built Zayre’s Department store became the anchors for the Fellsway Shopping Plaza, (Stop & Shop on the left and Zayre’s on the right). In fact I recall both stores being there in a large parking lot and no building connecting them for a short time. The developers then built a building that actually “bent” at an angle to connect the 2 large stores. Consumer Value Stores (now more commonly referred to as CVS) was one of the original tenants in the new shopping plaza.

Anyway, check it out, he currently has a photo I provided for him to use as a companion to the exterior B&W shot he has of the super market. It is of the old sign that was there until shortly after the chain moved to the larger Super Stop & Shop at the other end of the plaza. you can link here… http://pleasantfamilyshopping.blogspot.com/ or in my blogroll.

New “old” Diner to open in Worcester, Mass.

A new “old” diner will be opening in Worcester shortly. Actually this diner has been waiting to open since 1961 or so. Let me explain with some background. On May 23, 1961, the contents, tooling and other sundry assets of the Worcester Lunch Car and Carriage Manufacturing Company were sold at auction to Francis Van Slett.

Van Slett, the owner of the Van Slett Sign and Advertising Company (also of Worcester) hoped to continue the long tradition of diner manufacturing for the city. He named his new enterprise the Worcester Deluxe Diner Manufacturing Company, keeping on some WLC employees including Charles Gemme, (the long-time foreman for WLC) who acted as a consultant. Later in 1961 Van Slett was quoted in a Worcester Telegram and Gazette newspaper article that he was starting to build a diner on the speculation that a customer would be forthcoming.

Well the diner was only partially built at this time and a prospective customer never materialized, so the diner remained in storage (in a large warehouse) until the late 1990’s when Van Slett’s old property was cleared for new use. Ironically, the building where the diner was housed all those years is still there.

Here is that diner in Van Slett’s warehouse, November, 1981

The diner was moved to at least 2 storage locations one in Fall River, Mass. and one in Rhode Island but the structure was unfortunately largely unprotected from the weather for quite a while, sustaining water damage and rot.

A little over two and a half years ago Chris and Matt Blanchard of Worcester were in the market to expand their family business known as Blanchard Foods (a vending and catering company) by locating a classic diner and have it installed on their property.

They found out about the diner that Van Slett had started, (then being referred to as Worcester Deluxe 101) and felt that this diner, although just a plywood covered shell might just be what they were looking for. According to Chris, this was sort of poetic justice, completing the diner that was started so many years ago in the same city it was to be originally manufactured in.

Well it took a while but what is now known as Blanchard’s 101 Diner is slated to be opening in the next couple of weeks. Matt, handling the construction, has done a wonderful job, with what was essentially a blank canvas. The diner has 4 booths and a long counter w/stools, indirect lighting along the perimeter of the wall at the ceiling as well as recessed lights. Also there will be cooking right behind the counter!

The exterior is covered with heavy gauge metal panels (looking like flat extruded flutes) that were painted a pale yellow enamel in an auto body shop prior to being installed and there is stainless steel trim around the windows and at the roof-line and corners of the structure.

Due to the damage from being unprotected from the weather, the roof had to be shored up with beams that were placed back to front and actually protruded below the ceiling height. The exposed beams were then covered with stainless steel trim and do not look bad at all.

Steve Repucci and I stopped by today after having breakfast at the Central Diner in Milbury (But that’s another story) and checked on the progress only to find out it was being readied to open. After talking with Chris (a Certified Executive Chef) and Matt we got the very strong feeling that this diner was finally in good hands and can’t wait to eat there in the very near future!

The diner is located at 322 Cambridge Street in Worcester and will be open 7 days a week. Sun-Wed: 5 am to 3 pm,
Thurs: 5 am to 8 pm, & Fri-Sat: 5 am to 11 pm

Exterior view of Blanchard’s 101 Diner

Interior of Blanchard’s 101 Diner (from left end)

Interior of Blanchard’s 101 Diner (from right end)

Watertown’s (Mass.) Deluxe Town Diner helping to recycle


I just got an email yesterday from old friend David Guss who sent a link to the CBS Evening News that had a piece on recycling cooking grease to be used as fuel for adapted diesel engines. It featured David’s nephew and the Deluxe Town Diner of Watertown.

Here is the link to the video…. http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=3746513n

O’Rourke’s Diner reopening soon!

 Zippy the Pinhead & Bill Griffith at O’Rourke’s, 1999
Photo by Larry Cultrera 

On August 31, 2006, after a devastating fire and unfortunately, no fire insurance, it looked like the end for one of Connecticut’s if not America’s most beloved diners. But more than likely because of its fame and recognition as well as its loyal clientele, like the mythical Phoenix, O’Rourke’s Diner of Middletown will rise from the ashes and serve old & new patrons within the next few weeks if all goes according to plan. A Hartford Courant article from yesterday by Alaine Griffin had the hopeful news….

Contact Alaine Griffin at agriffin@courant.com.

Visit www.courant.com/diner for video and photos from the fire and rebuilding of O’Rourke’s Diner.


Skee’s Diner has a new future


Todays Hartford Courant has an article about Skee’s Diner (589 Main Street, Torrington, CT), a 1920’s vintage Jerry O’Mahony diner. This diner is currently the only one in the state of Connecticut that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has been closed for several years, but things are looking up. Here is the text of the article..

Welcome News For Skee’s

Tiny, beloved Skee’s Diner, an aging landmark in western Connecticut that could have been lost to deterioration and neglect, will get a new life. The Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce, supported by Torrington officials and a number of other groups, is buying the former eatery. It will be moved about a mile to a commuter parking lot just off Route 8 in Torrington, where it will be restored and used as a welcome and information center, said JoAnn Ryan, president and CEO of the chamber.Instead of laying into a plate of hash browns at the tan marble counter, customers will tap on computers to find information about the state’s Northwest Corner

Ms. Ryan said the diner will be fully restored but will not serve food. She said there’s no need, with several other restaurants and coffee shops at the new location.

This is a fine reuse of an interesting historic building. Built in 1926, Skee’s is typical of the barrel-roof diners common in New England in the early 20th century. It could accommodate 17 customers on round swivel stools at the counter, and features such details as wood cabinetry with brass fittings, green and yellow one-inch ceramic floor tile, an enameled metal ceiling and frosted windows.

Such diners were built to be mobile, and that was the case with Skee’s. It opened for business in Old Lyme before being moved to Torrington in 1944. It’s been closed for several years. The chamber received a $100,000 matching grant award from the state Commission on Culture and Tourism’s Endangered Building Fund for the purchase.

The new use of Skee’s is the way all communities should think about older buildings. Too often the first thought is to tear them down, and so many have been demolished. But if the structures are architecturally or culturally significant or interesting, if they are a recognizable part of a city’s heritage, then Plan A should be to find another use. The default position ought to be saving the building.

The Northwest Chamber and its many allies took this approach with Skee’s, and will have one of the most distinctive welcome centers in the country.

Reprieve for Farmington Diner?


A January 18th newspaper artricle from the Lewiston, Maine Sun-Times mentioned that the Farmington Diner (Farmington, Maine) whose sight is slated to be developed into a new Rite Aid Pharmacy may be saved by the former owners. here is the text of this article….

Ex-owners offer to move diner, store it at home

Friday, January 18, 2008

FARMINGTON – A last-ditch effort to keep the Farmington Diner from demolition is being undertaken.

Former owners Rose and Mike Grimanis have agreed to purchase the diner and move it to their home on Prescott Street to save it, owner Russell Wood said Thursday.

But, the purchase is dependent on the town’s Planning Board and a contractor’s willingness to give them extra time since the board won’t meet until Feb. 11. The date is eight days beyond the 30 days requested by Wood in his sales contract with Rite Aid. The sale took place on Jan. 3.

“The contractor is willing to give us more time so I’ll be filing papers for the Planning Board,” Rose Grimanis said Thursday. “We’re hoping someone else will come and take it. This is a last-ditch attempt to make sure the building doesn’t get destroyed.”

The couple will need a flood plain review by the Planning Board in order to store it at their home on Prescott Street, Code Enforcement Officer Stephen Kaiser said. The length of time it will be stored and neighbors’ concerns, he expects, will also be addressed.

While the couple have retired, she said, they are considering eventually moving it to another location to set up and lease, but with the present economy they are weighing all factors.

“I feel like a lot of mom and pop operations are giving way to big business. We’re losing a lot of our cultural heritage, and this community icon may go,” she said, explaining why she would consider undertaking the move. The couple retired from the diner after they sold it to Wood. Michael was there for 23 years, and she spent 20 years working with him, she said.

“This was what it would take. Someone who loved the diner and would put up the money to keep it from being destroyed,” Wood said. He talked with Grimanis on Wednesday and was told they were going to try to buy it in order to preserve it, he said.

If this doesn’t work then he’s going to have to let it go and it will be demolished, he said.

Another interested party called the Code Enforcement Office this week, Kaiser said, with a unique idea to move, refurbish and operate the diner. But that person would also need to go before the Planning Board for a site review, he said. Kaiser could not disclose any more information until an application has been filed with the town.

Rite-Aid developer Bruce Carrier was willing Thursday to give the extra time for the meeting to be held. After talking with Kaiser, he said he understood there is another interested party and feels the issue can be worked out.

The metal-sheathed building was constructed to resemble a railroad car and served as the Lewiston Diner before being bought and moved to the Intervale in Farmington in the 1960s by Hubert Stewart, Melvin Bard of Farmington has said. Stewart moved his hamburger stand to the back of the site, made a kitchen out of it and put the diner up front, he said.

It’s about 12 feet wide and 40 feet long.

One option that had been discussed was having it go to the American Diner Museum in Rhode Island.

 The Farmington is a unique diner that looks to be a severely alterred Mountain View diner. A clue is the fact that it has Mountain View’s trademark “cow-catcher” corners on the front. But everything else inside and out does not look like anything that came out of the Mountain View factory.

More Rosedale Diner news

Back on November 9th I posted the news that Bill Faulk the owner of the former Rosedale Diner of Pottstown, PA had passed away. Yesterday Matt Simmons (my Daryl Hall & John Oates fan connection) got a message from Cindy Faulk Baker’s sister Marla that her mother Nancy L. Faulk passed away suddenly yesterday morning. The Rosedale Diner is the one depicted on Daryl Hall and John Oates’ second album circa 1973 entitled “Abandoned Luncheonette” (and my header). I have been in touch with Matt now for a few months because of his own interest into the Abandoned Luncheonette story. 
As I mentioned a couple of months ago I hope to soon be updating the story I originally wrote for Roadside Magazine back in 1991, (this was under Roadside’s “Diner Hunting” column). With Matt’s input along with info, photos and other memorabilia from Susan Norman, Cindy Baker and Marla this new version will include more of the history of this diner and how it ended up on the record album cover, and my quest to find the diner back in 1982!

American Sign Museum interested in Brighton’s 1957 Dunkin Donuts sign

I emailed Tod Swormstedt of the American Sign Museum the other day. I mentioned about the Boston Sunday Globe article (I posted last week) on the subject of the possible upcoming trashing of the 1957 vintage Dunkin Donuts sign located in Brighton, Mass. Tod informed me he has been trying to negotiate with Dunkin Brands and the franchisee about the fate of the sign which is the last original sign from that period still in use. Unfortunately, so far neither party is responsive to the possible stay of execution for the ill-fated sign. I believe Tod will continue to work on finding a way to save this sign along with Arthur Krim & Dave Waller. Check out the American Sign Museum’s website at http://www.signmuseum.com/ , it is located at 2515 Essex Place Cincinnati, Ohio 45206 (513) 258-4020

Breakfast at the Salem Diner

Denise & I went over to the Salem Diner to check it out under the new management of George and Zoe Elefteriadis today. We were happy to see the place all cleaned up with some updating of booths, floor tile, etc.

During the month and a half it was closed for the transition, the booths had been removed,
(all except the built in benches on the streamlined end) and a new ceramic tile floor was installed. Zoe explained that they had hoped to keep the boomerang formica counter apron intact but unfortunately when they removed the old floor covering the apron got damaged so they put a complimentary tile apron as well.

The heating/cooling system was updated so it will work correctly winter & summer. The booths were all completely reupholstered and look better than new.

The food was excellent, in fact Denise was particularily impressed with the overall cleanliness and general change from the last time we were there (last summer). She also loved the fact that they had freshly baked chocolate chip muffins (she is not a big breakfast person.

Overall it was a pleasant experience and I would highly recommend the Salem Diner to everyone. They are open 6:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday thru Saturday (breakfast & lunch) and Sunday 6:00 am to 2:00 pm (breakfast only).

Say hi to Zoe and George and tell them Larry the diner guy sent you!

Salem Diner reopens under new ownership


A couple of weeks ago I contacted Joe Cultrera, the independent film producer (an acquaintance, no relation), as I saw he had relocated from NYC back to his hometown of Salem, Mass. Joe has produced films such as Witch City and more recently Hand of God, a film that appeared on PBS’s Frontline about his older brother Paul who was a victim of the 1960’s Catholic priest abuse scandal and how Paul and the rest of the family later dealt with this knowledge.

Anyway in the brief email exchange Joe inquired about the “closed” Salem Diner (a 1941 vintage Sterling Streamliner). I told him I wasn’t aware that it had closed. He mentioned it had a sign saying it would be reopening under new owners. From what I understand it was not closed too long and an article from todays Salem News confirmed that it has reopened as of yesterday. The new owners had longtime regular customer Johnny Pesky (of Boston Red Sox fame) cut the ribbon at the Grand Reopening.

Here is the text from the article…

Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky steps up to plate for Salem Diner

Tom Dalton

SALEM | Johnny Pesky looks as comfortable in the corner booth at the Salem Diner as he did sitting in the dugout at Fenway Park. It’s a home away from home.The 88-year-old Red Sox icon, who was a teammate of Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio, now sits at the Loring Avenue eatery between Bob Grant, 82, a retired first assistant clerk magistrate at Salem District Court, and Joe Moran, 82, the former director of guidance for the Chelsea public schools.Yesterday, while waiting for their food to arrive, the boothmates tossed a few fastballs at Pesky, a former Red Sox player, coach and manager who has been immortalized by “The Pesky Pole,” the right-field foul pole at Fenway Park.“It’s not easy being associated with Johnny Pesky,” said a grinning Moran, loud enough for Pesky to hear. “I get people calling me from Hong Kong wanting his autograph.”

“I don’t mind,” Pesky said.

“Yeah, but it’s ruining me,” Moran said.

Team Pesky made a special trip to the Salem Diner yesterday for its grand reopening. Built in 1941 — the year before Pesky made his major league debut — it was recently bought by George and Zoe Elefteriadis of Belmont, former owners of the Sports Haven in Salem and the A Street Deli in South Boston.

When they bought the diner, they had no idea they were acquiring the rights to a baseball legend and his boothmates, who have been eating breakfast there for the past decade. In fact, Zoe Elefteriadis had no idea about the identity of the white-haired guys in the corner booth.

“I said, ‘Who’s Johnny Pesky?'” she said with an embarrassed laugh.

Fast learners, the couple invited Pesky to cut the ribbon at yesterday’s ceremony. He arrived in his blue Red Sox jacket and gladly did the honors inside the tiny diner decorated with pink, green and blue balloons.

“That’s the first one I’ve ever done,” he said. “I’ve been in parades, but I never cut a ribbon before.”

The Breakfast Boys began meeting more than 30 years ago at Rolly’s restaurant in Lynn, which is now gone. They moved to Bickford’s in Swampscott, Pesky’s hometown. “They sold the place,” he said, “so we had to move.” They made a brief appearance at Maria’s Place in Salem but have spent most of the past decade at the Salem Diner.

The morning lineup has changed over the years, as members have died, moved away or gone into nursing homes.

“We lost some wonderful people,” Pesky said.

The one constant has been Mr. Red Sox, who comes almost every day for eggs and sausage. And, being a superstitious ballplayer, he adds a little something of his own.

“I bring my own toast,” he said. “I’m one of those guys who’s allergic to flour.”

here is the link that has some photos…