Notes from the Hotline 12/6/08

Tim’s Diner, Leominster, Mass. Photo from early 1980’s
A more recent photo of Tim’s Diner, Leominster, Mass.

Breakfast at Tim’s Diner

Steve Repucci and I got together today for breakfast at Tim’s Diner in Leominster, Massachusetts. Tim’s is probably the smallest Silk City Diner in existence. Usually the Paterson Vehicle Company (manufacturers of Silk City Diners) built a standard model. They all generally looked the same in any given model year with the possible exception of interior color scheme and exterior porcelain stripe in the earlier years (that usually had the name baked right in). The sizes varied according to amount of seating but not by too much. This one came out of the factory in the smallest size they probably ever made.

This is certainly up there in my book as one of my favorites! I always enjoy my breakfast whenever I get out there (which is not often enough). When I first photographed it in the early 1980’s, it was still in original shape. It featured one of those small factory-built vestibules (not much bigger than the phone booth in the earlier shot) and was all stainless steel with a beige porcelain enameled stripe. Unfortunately within a few of years the diner was involved in not one but two accidents. It was struck by automobiles twice and suffered the loss of the vestibule and the wall to the right of the vestibule was pushed in slightly. If you sit in one of the booths on that side you will see the tile wall bulging in from the accident. So now the diner has light colored brickwork under the windows to hide the damage. In fact the brickwork where the wall is damaged was damaged again from the second accident!

Tim looked into getting a grant to get the diner restored but unfortunately nothing much has come from that. Anyway, if you are ever in the area, check out Tim’s Diner, it is located on Water Street one block off Route 12 in downtown Leominster. I highly recommend it!


Tumble Inn Diner, Saugus, Mass.

Under new ownership, Saugus’ Tumble Inn Restaurant becomes the Tumble Inn Diner in nod to history

Within the last month and a half the ownership of the Tumble Inn in my hometown of Saugus has changed, it is now run by Bob Penta. I first realized that something was going on when the panels in the sign hanging over the sidewalk were missing. The next thing I knew there were new panels and the word “Restaurant” was gone and in it’s place it said “Diner”. I was happy to see this and decided to check it out. I had not been there too often in the last few years as I was not impressed by the former owners. When Denise and I first moved to Saugus 8 years ago I became a regular customer when it was run by Jo Ann & Jack Neary. I even designed the logo for there coffee mugs. They sold the restaurant around 2004 and it has been owned by  two other entities until being sold to Bob Penta.

For those of you not familiar with it, the Tumble Inn Restaurant is located in an existing store block in Cliftondale Square on Lincoln Avenue in Saugus. I have been aware of it for at least 35 years. I recall wondering about the name and when I got into documenting diners, I found out it was a fairly common name for a diner. There is a famous late model Worcester Lunch Car in Claremont, NH with the same name. I also knew there had been  Tumble Inn Diners in Lynn, Mass. and Revere, Mass. It wasn’t until Gary Thomas brought out his “Diners of the North Shore” (Images of America series) book when I learned that the Tumble Inns in Revere and Lynn were owned by the Blackburn family. I also learned that there was an on-site built, barrel-roofed Tumble Inn Diner located in Danvers, Mass. for many years.

After I became a regular customer in the early 2000’s I found out that indeed Saugus’ Tumble Inn had started out as a “real” diner. What has been described to me sounds like an early barrel-roofed Worcester Lunch Car with counter service only. It was located down the block until sometime in the late 1950’s or early 1960’s when the business was forced to move. Unfortunately no photos of the original diner have been found to date. I hold out hope that someday one might surface. Since Mr. Penta has taken over and I changed my place of employment, Denise and I have become regular customers most weekday mornings before I head north on U.S. Rte. 1 to work. We checked out the “Italian Specialties” (as noted in their new sign) on Friday nights (last night) and highly recommend their dinner menu as well as the breakfast and lunch offerings. I have also updated the design of the coffee mugs for the diner and hopefully in the next few weeks they will be available.