Notes from the Hotline – 4-26-08

Liberty Elm Diner, Providence, RI

Exterior of Liberty Elm Diner (above) Interior (below)

While taking some much needed vacation time from work this week, I got to take a couple of small day-trips. On Thursday, Denise and I drove down to Providence and checked out the recently reopened diner, (Worcester Lunch Car Number 806) now operating as the Liberty Elm Diner. Located at 777 Elmwood Avenue (U.S. Rte.1) the diner has operated under many names including the Elmwood Diner when I first photographed it Nov. 14, 1981.

The new owners Carol DeFeciani and Diane Horstmyer performed some much needed cleaning-up and revamping of the diner. They even uncovered the original red porcellain enamelled panels that had been hidden by wooden panelling for years. Unfortunately, they were damaged from the way the previous covering was attached. They are operating the diner as a coffee shop/cafe with a lot of locally made products including coffee and baked goods as well as locally bottled soft drinks. But don’t let this description mislead you, you can get full meals including breakfast and lunch.

One thing I noticed was the stools at the counter, though old, were not the original stools. If you look at the floor, the pattern on the tile shows that a stool with a much larger base was originally installed. The current stools are similar to what was there except for one big difference, they are the wrong height for the counter. The stools are probably a half a foot lower than they should be.

DeFeciani and Horstmyer are hoping that reopening the diner will help bring back the neighborhood which had been sort of depressed in the last few years. I was told that business is good and that through word of mouth, the diner’s business will hopefully continue to grow. You can get to the diner easily from I-95 by using the Elmwood Avenue exit (watch for signs for Roger Williams Zoo which is also on Elmwood Ave.) The diner is north of the exit heading back toward downtown, the zoo is south of the exit.

Town Square Diner, Norwood, MA

On the way back from Providence we stopped in Norwood to check out the Town Square Diner. Located on Nahatan Street, this is an on-site diner with a classic neon sign. This sign is such a classic, John Baeder did a painting of it years ago. (Not the diner, just the sign). This diner has become a favorite of mine whenever I’m in the area, mostly through the efforts of the people who were most recently running it. The food and service were good and the place had a good vibe to it, although there was always the fact that the great diner sign was not operating and needed a complete refurbishing.

Anyway a few months ago I saw a photo of the diner on Flickr.  The sign was working again and they had placed new signage over the windows. When I pulled up on Thursday, I was surprised to see they had “dinered-up” the outside with some well-placed stainless-steel trim and other little decorations. There was even a new slightly flared-out stainless-steel fascia at the top of the wall giving the building a nice finished off look. All in all, the place looked fantastic, this diner never looked as good as it does now!

I stepped inside and found out that new owners took over the business just 3 weeks ago and I told them I liked the way it looked and wished them well. I am looking forward to the next time I’m there for a meal.

Rock N’ Roll Diner, Scarborough, ME

Friday morning we headed up to Scarborough, Maine to get a look at Maine’s newest diner. It opened last July and is called the Rock N’ Roll Diner. It looks very much like the Blast from the Past Diner, (of Waterboro, ME) a Star Lite model built by Valient Diners out of Florida, circa 2004. In fact the owners of the Rock N’ Roll Diner are friend’s with the Blast from the Past’s owners and got the idea to open a diner from them.

All the newspaper articles I had read mentioned that they were building the new diner at Dunstan’s Corner on U.S. Route 1, and it was not clear if they were getting a factory-built diner like the Blast from the Past or if they were building from scratch. When we went in for breakfast I asked the waitress if the diner was a factory-built unit and she confirmed that it in fact was scratch-built! I will tell you that even to my experienced eye, if I did not know better, I would say that Valient built this one too. What a fantastic copy!

Miss Portland Diner, Portland, ME

While we were in the Pine Tree State, we decided to drive north into Portland to see the Miss Portland Diner being worked on at it’s new site. It is now located farther up Marginal Way from it’s old location. The site where it used to be until 4 years ago is now occupied by an office building.

2 or 3 blocks up on the opposite side of the street, the diner is now installed on piers (no cellar, just crawl space) and a large addition for diningroom and kitchen are being built onto the back of the diner. The roof has just been redone with new shingles and looks brand-new. From the reports I read they hope to have it open this fall.

I spoke with old friend Gary Thomas who says that he has been contacted to build between 7 or 10 replica booths and tables for the new diningroom. These will match the ones inside the diner. At this point though, nothing is finallized on the booth/table replicas.

2 thoughts on “Notes from the Hotline – 4-26-08

  1. Larry,

    looking at the Rock N’ Roll I was looking at it thinking to myself, something looks a little bit off. (I’ve seen far too many Starlites in February) But in all honesty, if someone said it was a Starlite, I would have just said sure and moved on.

    Can I ask you to check out some environmental diners and give me your opinion.

  2. Mike, Yeah, as I said in the post, what I had read about this had me confused, especially when I saw a photo. It looked just like a Star Lite. Even when I drove up to it and went inside, I could not tell. There were some stainless moldings at the corners that were much fancier than what I had seen on other Star Lites.

    As far as the diner photos you mentioned one or two might be covered over older diners. It is always tough to tell without a tag.

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