Notes from the Hotline, 11-15-08

Photos of former Big Dig Diner in new location

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Exterior view of the former Big Dig Diner now operating
as Nancy’s Diner In Grafton, Ohio

I’ve heard from Steve Harwin of Diversified Diners this week. Steve is a busy man and he was answering an email I sent 2 or 3 months ago. No problem, I was happy to hear from him! He sent along 2 photos of the former Big Dig Diner that had been located for a number of years in Boston. It was a 1940’s Silk City Diner that had  at least 2 other lives and operating locations.

It had been at one time the Exton Diner in Exton, PA before it was moved to a location on U.S. Rte. 22, east of Harrisburg, PA in a little town called Ono, PA. It operated under the name of Fern’s Diner and later when I first saw it as the Windmill Diner. It was closed there by the late 1980’s and in the early 1990’s Gordon Tindall managed to buy the home-made vestibule that was attached to the diner. He dismantled it and rebuilt it to attach to the Clarksville Diner, another Silk City he was restoring in Decorah, Iowa.

By the mid-90’s Steve Harwin acquirred the old Windmill Diner and moved it to Cleveland where he restored the diner and sold it to the non-profit entity that used the diner in conjuction with the Log School to be a training facility called the Big Dig Diner and operated it on city owned land at Drydock Ave. in South Boston.

After a few years the diner closed and stood vacant until the city wanted to reuse the property. The city of course wanted the diner moved or demolished. In stepped Steve Harwin who came and got the diner. He moved it back to Cleveland and brought it back again to working condition. he sold the diner recently and it is now operating in Grafton, Ohio as Nancy’s Diner.

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Interior view of the former Big Dig Diner now operating
as Nancy’s Diner In Grafton, Ohio

The former Moe’s Diner of Durham, Connecticut has new life as Dan’s Diner

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Dan’s Diner of Spencertown, NY

I got an email from Mike Engle last weekend saying he was taking Glenn Wells on a “surprise” diner excursion. He did not let on which diner he was taking Glenn to but I found out on Monday when Glenn posted a small account of the trip on Roadsidefans Yahoo Group message board on Monday. They apparently went to the newly reopened Dan’s Diner, a 1925 vintage Jerry O’Mahony Diner lovingly restored by Dan Rundell of Spencertown, NY.

I knew that the diner was fairly close to opening back in the late summer. John Baeder sent some photos shot by his good friend Bill Tomson who also hails from Spencertown. I met Dan Rundell a few years ago by chance when he was in Medford, Mass. for an auction that included parts from the former Vree’s Diner of Saugus, Mass. I told him I had heard of him and I had been following the saga of his exploits from afar for a number of years since he bought the old barrel-roof diner and moved it from Durham, Conn. where it used to operate as Moe’s Diner.

Rundell spent a long time working on the diner and from all accounts, it looks as good as it did when it came out of the O’Mahony factory back in the 1920’s. Mike Engle even said the result of the restoration rivals the 3 diners that Gordon Tindall has worked on. Hopefully I might take a trip out to eastern New York state and check it out myself sometime in the near future.

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Dan’s Diner of Spencertown, NY

One thought on “Notes from the Hotline, 11-15-08

  1. The timing was not best for Dan’s Diner. It opened just before Winter (run by a ms. Jenny Strom) and so much of the clientele around here are weekenders! Many locals don’t go out for breakfast, especially in this economy. So it has sadly closed already. I hope they re-open this summer…..It’s a real cool place….

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