Fairfield, Connecticut’s Zemo’s Diner has all it’s ducks in a row, groundbreaking to be in spring of 2009


DeCoven Diner from early 1980’s, copyright Larry Cultrera

I just read an article from today’s Connecticut Post about Gary Zemola’s continuing efforts to open the former DeCoven Diner (from Duncannon, PA) at it’s new home on Duka Avenue just off the U.S. Rte. 1 traffic circle in Fairfield, CT. Zemola, an old friend has been dreaming of opening his own classic diner for close to 20 years. He is currently the owner operator of Fairfield’s Super Duper Weenie, which started out as a mobile hot dog wagon in a converted step van and is now a sit-down/take out restaurant. In the article he is quoted as saying the diner, now in storage is 90% ready to be moved to the new location. He is just putting off things until the spring of next year.

Here is the text of the ConnPost.com article by Genevieve Reilly……

OK’d vintage diner on hold in Fairfield

FAIRFIELD — Gary Zemola hasn’t stopped chasing his dream for an old-fashioned diner — he’s just put it on the back burner. Zemola, the owner of Super Duper Weenie on lower Black Rock Turnpike, has all the OKs he needs to open a classic diner on Duka Avenue. Zemo’s Diner will be housed in a portable diner Zemola bought on eBay that was manufactured by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Co. in 1954.

“As of right now, all the approvals have been met,” Zemola said, though he still needs to get financing for a performance bond. He said he was planning to break ground soon behind Fairfield Lighting and Design, but things have been put on hold due to the economy. “I’d like to break ground in the spring,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to do this for over 20 years.”

The stainless steel diner, which for now sits in storage in Monroe, is being refurbished. “The diner is about 90 percent there,” Zemola said. The mobile diner was used as recently as 2003 in Duncannon, Pa., and was formerly called DeCoven Diner. It includes an original terrazzo (crushed marble) floor and “boomerang Formica” tabletops in booths and counters, according to Zemola.

The 59-seat Zemo’s Diner would be installed on adjacent properties at 63 and 75 Duka Ave., both of which are owned by Frank Zemola, Gary’s father. Frank Zemola also owns the property where Fairfield Lighting and Design is located. Zemola plans to continue operating Super Duper Weenie when the diner is opened.

Meanwhile, across town, the last vestiges of the former Larry’s Diner, also built by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Co., have quietly been incorporated into a new Miller Street restaurant called 55. The doors from the old diner are part of a second-floor dining room at the new eatery. Larry’s Diner sat on the Post Road for nearly 60 years before it was moved in 1986 to Miller Street. The Post Road property was sold for development as an office building, and the vintage 1927 railroad car diner was sold and relocated a stone’s throw away. It was used as the entrance to a larger restaurant initially known as Larry’s Diner, and later as the Rattlesnake Bar & Grill.

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