I have been in contact with Keith Walker recently, (apparently he’s been checking out my blog). Keith is the guy who purchased the former Tommy’s Deluxe Diner and moved it from Rhode Island to Oakley, Utah in 2007. Tommy’s, a prewar (1939) Jerry O’Mahony built diner was originally one of Al Mac’s Diners and located in Fall River, Mass. for the first years of it’s life before being replaced in there by a newer De Raffele diner in 1953. It was then sold to Tommy Borodemos who had it moved to Middletown, RI where it operated up until 2006 when the Borodemos family decided to close the diner and sell the property to Tim Horton’s Donut chain. The diner was placed into storage and put up for sale. Although other people were attempting to purchase the old diner, Keith Walker came up with the money and was able to arrange the purchase and transportation fees.
By this time the diner, mostly intact was showing it’s age from the wear and tear of operating constantly for over 60 years. To Keith’s credit he and his crew have managed to perform a complete restoration by tearing it down to it’s steel frame and completely rebuilding it. It now basically looks the way it did when it came out of the Jerry O’Mahony factory! Because it spent most of it’s life in the State of Rhode Island, Walker says in honor of this icon’s legacy we have named it the “Road Island Diner” because of its origin and the fact that it was placed on the island in the road. In one of Keith’s emails to me he says….
Larry, We are a few months from opening. We are still finishing the rear kitchen and are installing the new (Italian made) Formica on the ceiling. Formica USA did not produce anything like the original so we went overseas. The fire suppression system held us up till now. Replicating some of the discarded items has taken more time than expected. I visited this diners little sister (serial #1104) Collins Diner in Canaan, CT, (not New Canaan). This diner’s interior is almost identical but much smaller. I know of no other pre-war streamline O’Mahony still in existence which is strange as this manufacturer was so prolific. The O’Mahony’s designs changed dramatically after the war as they moved away from the “Rail Car” look and use of porcelain. What a shame! We are into this project at about 1 million so I know there isn’t anything left like it in the U.S. I doubt we will ever see a return on the investment but it has been a fun project. We would love you to visit if you’re ever in this state, Keith Walker
As he mentioned above, he knew of no other pre-war streamlined O’Mahony other than Collins’, I told Keith about the Route 209 Diner in Marshall’s Creek, PA. Although the exterior is somewhat disguised by a roof that ties it to the kitchen building, the interior as I recall was fairly original. I also mentioned the former Lemoyne Diner now sitting partially restored in Providence and he said that he was aware of that one and even been in touch with those people as well. I know there are other examples in New York state and elsewhere, so his is not unique but is certainly going to be the most restored of any in existence today.
If anyone wants to see a great slide show on this diner’s restoration, go to Keith’s website and check it out… www.roadislanddiner.com