I have written about this diner before, not on the blog but back when Diner Hotline was in print form for the Society for Commercial Archeology’s Journal Magazine. The Big Dig Diner, a 1940’s vintage Silk City Diner was located in the Seaport District of Boston for just over 10 years. It was used as a training facility for the Log School. They trained at-risk youth to work in a food service environment and were open maybe 3 days a week for a few years. The program eventually left the diner (I don’t know if they still exist) and the building sat idle for quite some time. The city of Boston who owned the property eventually wanted to use the site for something else.
Along came Steve Harwin of Cleveland’s Diversified Diners to the rescue. Steve knew this diner all too well as it was he who had rehabbed it back in the 1990’s and sold it to the Log School people. He had bought the diner and moved it from it’s last operating location on U.S. Route 22 in Ono, PA where it was known as the Windmill Diner. It had been closed as a diner for a few years at that time and had briefly been used by a construction company as an office if I remember correctly. It is believed that it originally operated as the Exton Diner in Exton, PA before being transported to Ono.
Steve moved the diner out of Boston last year and has found a new owner, Denise Shutek who has been wanting to buy a diner for years. Here is the text from a report off the WKYC.com website talking about the upcoming transition for this well travelled diner.
Big Dig Diner comes to town
CLEVELAND — Diners were invented in America and in some areas, they are historical landmarks. One of those landmarks is here in Cleveland. A local man restores diners right here in Cleveland and transports them all across the country. Steve Harwin specializes in rescuing diners that are on death row.
One such resurrection project he saved from the Big Dig in Massachusetts. When the tunnel there was closed for repairs, the diner was set to be demolished. “Nobody wanted it, which is surprising. They called me,” Harwin said. “I sent my riggers out. I didn’t even look at it. I knew it well enough.” The Big Dig Diner was the first diner he has ever restored. So, Harwin rescued it a second time.
The first time he bought it from a small town in Pennsylvania. It was made in the 1940’s in New Jersey. It will soon find a new home in Grafton. Nancy’s Diner will officially have the Big Dig Diner on Monday. Owner Denise Shutek is ready. “I have car hop trays from the 50s,” she said. “I have all kinds of stuff. I have people coming in now to give me records.”
For years, Shutek has been wanting to buy a diner and because of Harwin’s love for them she now can. Harwin said folks love for the classic’s is a natural draw. “You park a diner on any highway and people would see it and they would be drawn into it.” Harwin is currently the only man in the world that restores dying diners.
Here is a link to the piece with video footage… http://www.wkyc.com/news/local/news_article.aspx?storyid=93210&catid=3
© 2008 WKYC-TV