Diner in downtown Meriden, Conn. badly damaged in car accident

Oil Painting by John Baeder, copyright 1988

Cassadies Diner in downtown Meriden, Conn. was badly damaged in an accident yesterday afternoon (5-29-08). The diner is an early 50’s vintage Silk City diner with an unusual feature, the back wall of the diner is completely finished in sunburst-style stainless steel panels. More than likely because it sits end-wise from the street. It was the subject of a 1988 oil painting by John Baeder (see above), when it was known as the Palace Diner. Here is the text from a Myrecordjournal.com article from this morning by staff writer Jason R. Vallee…..

Photo by Eric Cotton, Record Journal

Car hits downtown diner

MERIDEN – A woman and two children were taken to Hartford Hospital after the woman’s Chevy Impala hit an SUV before driving head-on into Cassidies Diner, causing the front entrance to collapse. Meriden Assistant Fire Chief Robert Burdick said the driver who hit the 82 W. Main St. diner was transported to Hartford on an Advanced Life Support system. He said injuries to the passengers, a 12-year-old girl and an infant, were non-life-threatening.

“The damage was primarily to the front corner of the diner and we were able to shut down electricity and gas so there was no fire hazard,” Burdick said. The victims’ names were not immediately available. Westbound lanes of West Main Street were closed for nearly two hours while emergency crews cleared the scene.

New Britain resident Luz Torres, the driver of the SUV, was uninjured in the accident and said she didn’t see the other vehicle until after it had hit her and crashed into the diner. She said she had a green light and was turning left from South Grove Street when she was struck. Torres and several other witnesses said they turned immediately following the crash and saw the woman exit the vehicle with her breast exposed and the infant in her arms.

Police on the scene said both women claimed to have a green light and were unable to say who was at fault. No charges were filed in the incident as of 9 p.m. police said. They did not comment on the reports provided by other witnesses. The diner suffered serious damage to the entrance, but Burdick said it had a stable frame and did not appear at risk of collapsing.

The restaurant’s former operator, Meriden resident Steve Prescott, was at the scene and said the damage was beyond repair. “It’s a diner car that was built in 1946,” said Prescott, who operated the restaurant under the name ‘Just in Time Diner’ from 1990-2003. “It’s very rare. That place can’t be fixed, you can’t even get the materials it would take to fix it up like it was before.”

Police did not immediately release the name of the woman transported Thursday evening. Officers at the scene were attempting to locate witnesses that could provide more details about the accident.

Also here is a link to Connecticut’s NBC-30 with some footage of the accident’s aftermath…

I don’t agree with Steve Prescott, the former owner who said it can’t be fixed. If I were owner Jay Delaney, I would try to contact Steve Harwin at Diversified Diners of Cleveland, Ohio. In my opinion, Steve is the person who could rebuild that diner, basically reverse the damage caused by the automobile. Steve has rebuilt or restored 3 or 4 (or maybe more) Silk City diners over the years.
Here is a link to his website http://www.oh-diners.com/divers/