New Hampshire’s Milford Diner to become 2nd Red Arrow Diner


Milford Diner, circa 2007 photo by Larry Cultrera

I wrote within the last 2 months about the tragic death of Gordon Maynard, co-owner with Debbie Flerra of the Milford Diner of Milford, NH. Maynard died from injuries received in an automobile accident. Apparently, the diner has not reopened since Maynard’s passing.

I just read a news story from Cabinet.com about some new info on the diner. It looks like Carol Sheehan of Manchester’s Red Arrow Diner is going to reopen the Milford site as a second location for the Red Arrow. I had heard that she was thinking of opening more locations. Ironically, back a few decades ago, there was a chain of Red Arrow Diners in New Hampshire and the Manchester location was the last still operating from the earlier chain.

I know I have a postcard in my collection showing a Red Arrow Diner in Nashua, (a Brill diner), that does not exist anymore. According to the Cabinet story, there were quite a few Red Arrow’s in Manchester, New Hampshire’s largest city.

I only went to the Milford once when Maynard and Flerra operated it (around the time they reopened it) and had a pleasant visit. I was hoping to get back but had not been able to make the time. From what I saw they had done a nice job in bringing back the feel of this circa 1930 vintage Liberty Diner built in the Silver Creek, NY area after its interior was trashed by the previous operators.

Well I like the Red Arrow Diner in Manchester so I can only hope that the Milford one will be just as good food-wise and that they don’t do anything to the interior which in my opinion has a great diner feel already!
Here is the copy from Staff writer Kathy Cleveland’s Cabinet.com story on the diner’s rebirth….

Follow the Red Arrow to Oval

Published: Thursday, Sep. 25, 2008
 
MILFORD — Manchester’s landmark Red Arrow Diner will open a 24-hour eatery on the Oval in the old Milford Diner, and name it the Red Arrow Diner. The location will be the Red Arrow’s second diner and will be identical to the Manchester one, only bigger, said Dawn Foote, daughter of Red Arrow owner Carol L. Sheehan, on Tuesday.
The low-slung Manchester eatery, a well-known campaign stop during presidential primaries, is squeezed into a narrow strip of land on Lowell Street and is often bursting with customers. Foote said the real estate closing was scheduled for Sept. 24, and the diner should open in mid-October. On Tuesday, Milford residents seemed happy with the news that the diner will re-open. It has been closed since July when co-owner Gordon Maynard was killed in a car accident.
Karen Walker, owner of Karen’s Kollectibles, across the street from the Milford Diner, said she is excited.
“People come in here and ask where can I get a soda or a cold drink,” she said, because there is nowhere to go after 2 p.m. “Between (the new diner) and the good Chinese restaurant” nearby, it’s good news for Milford, Walker said, referring to the China Golden, across from her shop. Selectman Kathy Bauer said the diner will “be good for downtown. A lot of people in Milford work the night shift. It fits in with our way of life.”
The Red Arrow opened in Manchester in 1922 and is famous for its all-day breakfasts, grilled cheese and other traditional diner food. It came out tops in Hippo Press’ 2008 readers’ poll, in several categories, including “best cheap eats,” “best breakfast” “best diner” and “best grilled cheese.”  “By sticking to a simple formula of good food, low prices, courteous service, and clean atmosphere, the Red Arrow packs them in,” said Randy Garbin of Roadside Magazine, quoted in USA Today. He recommended the breakfast chili omelet and “splendid brownie creme pie.”

Streetcar diner

The Milford Diner has been a downtown fixture since the early 1900s. In recent years it has had several incarnations, including the notorious Toro restaurant a few years ago. Toro’s owners wound up taking water from the Souhegan River with a bucket they lowered out the window after the utilities were shut off for non-payment. The couple left town and abandoned the property owing employees back wages.
When Maynard and Debbie Flerra, who owns the Milford Fish Market, opened a diner in 2007 they received acclaim for the retro-50s style furnishings. Flerra could not be reached at press time.
Milford’s town history, “The Granite Town,” says the town’s first diner was a streetcar owned by Sidney Baker, who would park it on Middle Street during the day then bring it to the north end of the Oval to open for business at night.
The Red Arrow opened in 1922 and at one point there were five Red Arrows throughout the city, according to the diner’s web page. In 1998 the diner, which has only five booths and 16 stools, went smoke-free, which caused unhappy patrons to picket the place. That same year it was voted one of the top 10 diners in the country by USA Today.

New Website features many Diner “Menus” from upstate New York

Mike Engle posted some info about a new website on the Roadsidefans Yahoo Message board today. This website is by Pat & Steve Suriano and is called HVDiners.com (HV stands for Hudson Valley). It is an adjunct of their We Want Take Out website. This features scores of links to menus from diners in the upstate area as well as other restaurants. I believe it is something that can truly be useful to the true “diner hunter”. It provides great insight into what the different places offer as well as where they are located.

One thing I noticed is the person who put the website together used a small version of my Prospect Mountain Diner night shot from October 1982. (See Above) It is on the left of their HV Diners banner. I let Steve know it was mine and that he could use it as long as I got credit!

Anyway, here is the link to their website http://www.hvtakeout.com/diner/dinerindex.html
I highly recommend it!

The first version of Grubb’s Diner

Because I mentioned this diner yesterday as the first version of Grubb’s Diner, I thought I would post a photo of it from circa 1981. As I mentioned this diner known at the time that I stopped at it as Jerry’s later became known as the Ridge Diner before it closed and moved. It is actually still in storage somewhere in central Pennsylvania and from the photos I saw, was still in reasonably good shape. A 1950’s vintage Fodero Diner with stainless steel and dark stripes still looks good.

You can see some fairly recent photos on jackoguit’s flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/9388425@N08/1411815070/in/photostream/ where it currently sits west of State College, PA

Former Grubb’s Diner looking for new owner & new home


Jerry Grubb is willing to give away the former Grubb’s Diner to
anyone who moves the landmark and reopens it.
(Altoona Mirror photo by Cori Bolger)

In my travels in the early 1980’s, I had gotten out to central Pennsylvania (as far as the Pennsylvania Railroad’s famous Horseshoe Curve) in Altoona. Check out the Horseshoe Curve at…. http://www.railroadcity.com/hc/index.php. On the way we stopped to eat at Jerry’s Diner, a 1950’s stainless steel Fodero Diner on Route 22. Years later when I read Brian Butko’s Diners of Pennsylvania book, I found out that Jerry’s Diner (at that point known as the Ridge Diner) had originally been known as Grubb’s Diner. It was replaced in 1964 by a brand-new Grubb’s Diner, (a Swingle Diner) which unfortunately I missed in my earlier travels out that way.

The newer diner closed within the last couple of years when the property it was on was redeveloped by the Rite-Aid Pharmacy chain. Formerly located on Route 22 in Huntingdon, PA, the diner itself was moved down the road into a storage location because the long-time owner (Jerry Grubb) did not want to see it destroyed. A story out of Altoona, PA (The Altoona Mirror) dated September 21, 2008 gives the details of how Jerry Grubb would like to see his former diner live on.

Wanted: Owner for free ‘you haul’ diner

By Cori Bolger, cbolger@altoonamirror.com

HUNTINGDON – Jerry Grubb cares so deeply about the future of his former diner that he is offering to give away the ’50s-style restaurant for free. Grubb only has one stipulation: The new owner must transport the landmark to a new location and reopen it for business. ”These types of diners are really making a comeback, and I’m surprised no one locally wants it,” Grubb said. ”It’s an excellent piece, and you can’t get them much cheaper.”

The locals called it the end of an era when Grubb’s Diner, a 24-hour Huntingdon institution, shut its doors for good last year to make way for a new Rite-Aid pharmacy at South Fourth Street and Route 22. Grubb, the diner’s manager and cook for 52 years, decided it was time to hang up his spatula, but he didn’t have the heart to demolish the timepiece. Instead, he dismantled it and paid a moving company to haul the silver 68-foot-long diner a mile up the road to the Huntingdon Motor Inn.

It now sits on two flat-bed trailers perched over Route 22, frozen in time and empty, except for the original retro light fixtures, booths and bar. A menu on the wall offers dinners for $1.15 and lobster tail for $2.50. Smithfield Township supervisors have voiced concerns that the diner – or pieces of it – might blow down onto the highway, but Grubb doesn’t seem concerned. Together, the pieces weigh 49 tons and won’t budge, he said. Grubb has used tarps to secure parts of the structure just to be safe.

At a meeting last week, Grubb told supervisors he hopes to find a new home for the diner before winter sets in. So far, he’s had several offers, but no takers. He donated the iconic Grubb’s Diner sign and pieces of kitchen equipment to the National Military History Center in Auburn, Ind. A group of Boy Scouts recently restored the sign, which was designed by Grubb’s son, Darin Grubb. ”We’re going to put it up in our car gallery and park ’50s cars underneath it,” said Josh Conrad, the center’s collections manager. The museum staff was also interested in featuring the diner in its exhibit, but decided the cost of shipping would be too expensive.

A group of Juniata College alumni told Grubb they would like to open it up on campus, but Grubb never heard back from them. Grubb, a Huntingdon resident, purchased the diner in 1964 from the Swingle Diner Co. in Middlesex, N.J. It was recently appraised for $100,000, but Grubb is willing to negotiate a lower price or donate it to the right person. In an ideal world, someone with an appreciation for the diner would re-open it in Huntingdon Borough and bring back the days of the 15-cent pie slice, said Barb Blair, a long-time Grubb family employee. ”People came here from all over,” she said. ”Jerry’s mother would make the pies and people flocked here because they were that good.”

To contact Jerry Grubb, call the Huntingdon Motor Inn at 814-643-1133.

Here is another link to an article with more photos http://www.baristanet.com/2008/09/free_restaurant_you_haul_it_yo.php

Threatened with Demolition, Toledo, Ohio White Tower to be Saved!

We’ve been watching the developments with the on-going story about the fate of one of the last White Towers in downtown Toledo, Ohio. Although some previous new reports said this building was built for another small hamburger restaurant outlet prior to White Tower taking it over, according to Diner Hotline reader John Shoaf, who has been in touch with the people who were past owner/operators (see his comments), they said this was built to be White Tower’s first outlet in that city. In the last few months there has been news that the building which has been closed for a while, was being offered for sale for the amount of $1.00. The catch is the building had to be moved so the site could be redeveloped.

It was announced today that someone finally stepped forward to save the beleaguered structure from the wrecking ball. Here is the story from “The Blade” dated  September 18th.


White Tower photo copyright The Blade 

Article published Thursday, September 18, 2008

1 WHITE TOWER, TO GO
Developer buys diner for return to downtown oasis;
joint to flip sites for new operation

That neon-lit era of 24-hour diners and the 3 a.m. ButterBURGER could soon return to downtown Toledo.

The White Tower diner at Jefferson Avenue and 10th Street, the first and last official outpost in the state of the restaurant chain, has a new owner who plans to dismantle, rebuild, and reopen it as an all-hours burger joint under the White Tower name.

Bruce Rumpf, owner of Rumpf Development Corp. and the Job 1 USA staffing agency, bought the closed 1929 diner for $1 from the YWCA of Greater Toledo in a sale announced yesterday. Mr. Rumpf anticipates burgers flipping as early as next spring at Monroe and Ontario streets on what’s presently a parking lot across from a Shell station. The project represents a $400,000 to $500,00 investment for him, Mr. Rumpf said.

“It was called the ‘Oasis in the Night’ because it was open 24/7, and that’s something that we will re-create — open 24/7 — so that there’s always a place to go to in downtown Toledo,” Mr. Rumpf said. The goal is to refurbish the 600-square-foot building — stools, countertops, and all the rest — to look as it did during White Tower’s heyday in the first half of 20th century. This specific diner closed in 2004 after 75 years of nearly continuous service. The restaurant was the first White Tower to open in Ohio and ultimately became one of more than a dozen Toledo locations.

Earlier this year, the YWCA began offering the historic diner for $1 to anyone willing to pay to move it from its present location, which is slated to become part of the YWCA’s planned $10.1 million expansion project of new apartments for battered women and low-income mothers and children. Lisa McDuffie, who is the YWCA president and chief executive officer, said she received about 30 inquiries for the White Tower from as far away as Georgia after an article appeared this summer in The Blade.

Ultimately, there were two serious offers: Mr. Rumpf’s and one from the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, which sought to install portions of the diner inside its museum building, Ms. McDuffie said. “It’s important to keep something that is Toledo in Toledo,” she said. There were about 230 White Towers at the chain’s height of popularity in the 1950s. The restaurants in Ohio were concentrated in Toledo, Dayton, and Cleveland.

While the newer and larger White Tower family-dining restaurant at 1515 West Sylvania Ave. in West Toledo still serves some classic White Tower menu items, it is no longer considered part of the original chain after it changed hands in 2004. Mr. Rumpf, who used to frequent the Jefferson and 10th White Tower, hopes the newly restored diner also will become a Toledo tourist attraction. He said he plans to serve original-recipe White Tower menu items like the ButterBURGER, with its simultaneously famous and infamous butter-soaked buns.

“Being in the downtown myself for 34 years, there probably wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t have a Double ButterBURGER or something from there,” he said. Local architect Bob Seyfang and builder Jim Moline have signed on for the reconstruction project. The dismantling is to begin and finish within 30 days, with the building’s components put in storage over the winter. “I’m proud of our history in this city and I think we need to celebrate more of the history, and the way we can do it is to make sure we don’t tear down what that history has been,” Mr. Rumpf said.

Joe’s Diner of Taunton, Mass. gets some nice press


Joe’s Diner, Taunton, MA   (Ted Boardman photograph)

Joe’s Diner of Taunton, Massachusetts got a nice write-up yesterday in the Taunton Daily Gazette. This is a diner I am very familiar with especially in its previous incarnations as Diane’s Diner and the Low Bridge Diner when it was in Everett, Mass. This 1940 vintage Sterling Diner started life as Ingram’s Diner (my spelling of that name may be off). After it closed in the late 1980’s as Diane’s Diner a local guy (can’t remember his name) bought the diner and moved it into a storage yard, down a block on Second Street from its old operating location at the corner of Spring Street. He cleaned it up a little but turned right around and sold it to its current owners.

Here is the piece by Gerry Tuoti, a Staff Writer for the Daily Gazette…..

Diner is the place to eat, chat

Taunton — “Good people, good food and good portions” are what bring regular customers like John Dunderdale to Joe’s Diner day after day. Often eating at Joe’s three times a week, Dunderdale ranks the meatloaf and the fish and chips as his favorite menu items. Kenny Babbitt and his wife, Veronica, opened the diner 22 years ago. Their daughter, Christine Periera, is now also a part owner.

Babbitt, a lifelong Taunton resident, explained how he got involved in the restaurant business. Years ago, he used to work for Hickey’s Diner. But when the owner decided to go out of business, Babbitt didn’t want to see the city without a diner. It was then that he saw an opportunity to open his own business and fill a culinary void. It wasn’t long before Babbitt came across a 1940 Sterling diner at a salvage yard in Everett.

“I bought it, brought it here and had it restored,” he said. Ever since, the diner has sat at 51 Broadway. The restaurant is named after Babbitt’s late father-in-law, Joseph Almeida, who helped get the establishment off the ground. Today, a picture of Almeida sits atop the refrigerator in the restaurant. Joyce Hackett has been with Joe’s Diner since the early days. “I make all the specialties and desserts,” she said.

In addition to diner staples like meatloaf and homemade pies, Hackett also considers stuffed cabbage, stuffed peppers, roast pork and chicken pot pie among the signature items at Joe’s. “We have everything you could imagine, and it’s all made from scratch,” she said. “There are no short cuts.”

Patron Bob Burt stops in for a bite to eat at Joe’s Diner at least once a day.  “Most days I come twice, for breakfast and lunch,” he said. He likes the food — particularly the fish and chips on Fridays — but doesn’t go to Joe’s to simply eat a meal. He goes to catch up with friends. “It’s a friendly atmosphere,” he said. “It’s like a family.”

Joe’s, which serves breakfast all day every day, is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week. It has additional weekend hours to capture the late-night crowd. Joe’s Diner is also open from 11 p.m. Friday to 1 p.m. Saturday, and 11 p.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday. Babbitt is also considering adding Friday evening hours to draw people in for dinner. “It’s always a challenge trying to stay ahead of things and keep up with the times,” he said. But so far, the success of Joe’s Diner has exceeded Babbitt’s original expectations. He credits the loyalty of his customers. For the immediate future, Babbitt hopes for more of the same.
“We just want to keep running smooth, the way we’ve been doing it all along,” he said.

Skip’s Restaurant of Chelmsford, Mass. closes for good

As I reported earlier this year, Skip’s Restaurant a longtime local landmark was slated to close this summer. An article from yesterday’s Lowell Sun featured a very nice report on the restaurant’s final day of operation. Here is the text of that article written by Rita Savard, (rsavard@lowellsun.com)

 

Skip’s was good to the last drop

CHELMSFORD — The room looks unremarkable.

Brown paneled walls and a worn Formica countertop. Waitresses shuttling plates of eggs and pouring bottomless cups of coffee. Just another humble greasy spoon. But listen closely. Above the clatter of silverware, scattered conversations and John Lennon singing “Watching the Wheels” over the radio, something bigger stirs. “These walls hold over a million stories,” said Fred Gefteas, co-owner of Skip’s in Chelmsford. “Today they’re talking.”

Gefteas and partner George Burliss fired up Skip’s grill for the last time yesterday, and the old Worcester dining car exhaled 62 years of memories. “This place is like a Bible for a lot of people,” said Rusty Simpson of Billerica. “We’ll be lost without it.” Skip’s is to Chelmsford what Durgin Park is to Boston, a restaurant where floorboards creak, the food tastes like mom’s cooking, and the breakfast counter outdates your grandfather. Gefteas and Burliss wouldn’t have it any other way. It means the building is more than bricks and wood, what even a wrecking ball can’t kill.

In 1946, Fred Gefteas Sr. gave up his small grocery store, Gefteas Market in Lowell, to buy Kydd’s diner and a neighboring ice-cream stand on 116 Chelmsford St. “My father couldn’t fry an egg when he started,” Gefteas said. Gefteas Sr. enlisted the help of his cousin, Steve Burliss, who had run a diner at Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee, N.H., and a luncheonette in the Giant Store in downtown Lowell. Thinking some people might have trouble pronouncing a Greek name like Gefteas (sounds like Jeftis), Gefteas Sr. and Steve Burliss came up with Skip’s, a nickname for Steve’s oldest son, Peter.

A few years later, Gefteas Sr. was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Before long, he was confined to a wheelchair. “I don’t remember him walking at all,” Gefteas says. “But it never stopped him from working.” Steve Burliss was Gefteas’ legs, taking care of the organized chaos on the floor. Gefteas was Burliss’ peace of mind, handling the bills and paperwork. For nearly 53 years, Gefteas Sr. was “the face of Skip’s,” greeting guests behind the pastry counter. “He eventually made a pretty good egg, too,” Gefteas said.

Skip’s family grew. In the summer of ’69, Burliss and his dad watched a man walk on the moon in the kitchen via a grainy black-and-white TV. Gefteas was mixing grasshoppers and pink swirls in the Embers Lounge when President Nixon resigned in 1974. On Sept. 11, 2001, about 100 people cried in the lounge as the World Trade Center towers fell. “We’re family here,” said waitress Helen Braiser. “When we laugh together we laugh hard, when we cry together, we’re still together and that helps a lot.” Gefteas and Burliss took over from their fathers in 1989. Customers’ kids had become parents. People moved in different directions. “But you never forget your hometown,” Gefteas said. “There are always going to be things you want to come back for.”

For Paul Douglass, it’s a hot roast-beef sandwich on toast. He drove all the way from Knoxville, Tenn. “I started coming here in high school,” said Douglass, now 66. “Skip’s was the place to go.” By lunchtime yesterday, Skip’s menus and memory books filled with photos and classic recipes moved as fast as the cream pie. A customer found out the restaurant was closing and called Burliss in a panic. “I need two quarts of gravy, one to freeze until Thanksgiving and the other until Christmas,” she said.

A couple of weeks ago, the restaurant started closing its doors at 5 p.m. for the first time in 62 years. Gefteas’ daughter, Melissa, drove by the dark building. “She said, ‘Dad, I just wanted to give the place a big hug because it’s given me everything I have,’ ” Gefteas said. In May, Gefteas and Burliss told the staff they would close. They wanted to give them enough time to find new jobs. No one left.

Under the neon Skip’s sign, a banner reads: “Thank you Chelmsford for many wonderful years.” A framed photo of a smiling Gefteas Sr. faces the swinging doors, watching over the customers and the waitstaff. And especially over his boys. After the last Skip’s special is served, Gefteas and Burliss take a long look around. They see the crowd, hear spoons clanking on coffee cups and smell perfect bacon frying. They see Gefteas Sr. ringing orders and Steve Burliss pacing. It looks remarkable. Gefteas picks up the picture of his father from behind the pastry case. “C’mon, Pop,” he says. “It’s time to go home.” He turns off the lights.

Goodbye Skip’s, we’ll miss you! (comment by Larry Cultrera)