Gordon Tindall’s Spud Boy Diner gets nice write-up and it is almost a year away from opening!

Spud Boy 1
Spud Boy Diner photos courtesy of Michele Jokinen/Post-Bulletin

My old friend Gordon Tindall’s newest diner restoration has gotten some nice press and according to the article I read, he has at least 10 or 11 months before he predicts the first plate of food is served. Gordon has moved and restored 2 other diners since the late 1980’s.

The first one was the Clarksville Diner formerly of Clarksville, NJ. A 1940 vintage Silk City diner he relocated from NJ to Decorah, Iowa. He spent 3 or 4 years restoring it and operated it for 6 years. Unfortunately he did not get the patronage he deserved and eventually sold it to a French television network who moved it to France.

Clarksville Diner – Clarksville, NJ, painting by John Baeder

The second diner was originally known as the Lackawana Trail Diner which operated in Stroudsburg, PA. A 1927 vintage Tierney diner Gordon moved to Lancatser, PA to restore and hopefully operate in that town. In fact during the early part of that restoration he renamed it the Red Rose Diner in honor of the city. Unfortunately he was not able to get the property he was looking at to operate the diner in Lancaster and went looking for a new town. This led him to Towanda, PA, located on U.S. Rte. 6 in northern Pennsylvania where he was able to set the diner on a prominent downtown location. He operated that one for the last 5 years or so with fantastic results.

Lackawana Trail Diner when it was operating as Jerry’s Diner
photo copyright by Larry Cultrera

During that time Mike Engle the co-author of Diners of New York had saved another old diner from the wrecking ball, a very rare Goodell Hardware built diner from Wellington, Ohio. This diner had operated under many different names since it was brand-new in 1927. When I came across it in the mid-1980’s, it was called the Village Diner. By the time Mike had visited it, it had been operating as Cecil’s Trackside Diner and was pretty much unrecognizable from when I had seen it.

Village Diner, Wellington, Ohio – photo copyright by Larry Cultrera

Mike had moved it to storage in Gilbertsville, NY but was never able to do much work on the structure. He eventually decided the diner needed another saviour and immediately thought of Gordon, whom he had become friends with over the last few years. Gordon came to look at the diner and subsequently could not turn down the daunting task to bring this one back to a semblance of what it looked like at one time.

Gordon, moved the diner to Towanda and started to work on it in his spare time, basically doing almost a complete rebuild. In the mean time Gordon was living in Towanda, running the Red Rose Diner and commuting every so often back to his home (and wife Val) in Decorah, Iowa.

Even though the Red Rose was a success, he really wanted to move back closer to his family. From what I understand he was taken with the little vacation spot of Lanesboro, MN and was thinking of moving the new diner project which he tentatively named the Yellow Rose Diner there to complete and possibly operate.

So he put the Red Rose Diner up for sale (the sale happened a few months ago) and moved the small wooden diner now called the Spud Boy Diner out to Lanesboro. Here is the text of the article from the Post-Bulletin of Rochester, MN about Gordon’s excellent adventure….

Lanesboro ‘Spud Boy’ eatery is Tindall’s latest project

6/26/2009 2:20:02 PM

By Matthew Stolle
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

LANESBORO Gordon Tindall has a peculiar habit. He can’t help laughing whenever he considers the strange, crazy, sometimes humorous situations his love of old diners has gotten him in.

When Tindall first came upon a 1927 diner in Gilbertsville, N.Y., it was a wreck. It had no windows, no doors, no interior. The walls were bulging out. The whole structure was a sagging mess.

Tindall, who has operated two other diners, couldn’t wait until he could begin rebuilding it.

“I guess that’s my downfall,” Tindall said, taking a break from his top-to-bottom reconstruction of the diner, now located in downtown Lanesboro. “I like fixing something I think still deserves a second chance. And this diner to me, well, there was no other one like it.”

Nearly six months into his restoration efforts, Tindall figures he is 75 percent finished with the restaurant he plans on calling “Spud Boy,” and hopes to have it open for business next spring.

“Oh, it’s beautiful,” said Tindall. “Each one I say is my greatest achievement. This one far outshines the others.”

Gordon Tindall inside the Spud Boy Diner
Spud Boy Diner photos courtesy of Michele Jokinen/Post-Bulletin

Love at first sight

Tindall, 62, loves talking about diners, loves everything about them. It got into his blood and never left, even in years when the dining business wasn’t so good to Tindall.

The first diner he ever restored was a metal diner built in 1940. He spent four years restoring it. Two weeks before the scheduled grand opening, a drunken driver ran into it, heavily damaging the exterior.

The restaurant in Decorah, Iowa, never took, so he eventually sold it. For nearly four years, Tindall ran a diner called the Red Rose Diner in Towanda, Penn., that he rebuilt and reconstructed, before selling it to focus on his latest creation.

Tindall says it was love at first sight with his current project. What made it so unique was that this one had wheels. An archeologist who had discovered the bone of some previously undiscovered prehistoric animal couldn’t have been more excited than Tindall was with his discovery.

It was the only wheeled diner left. And even though the structure was in “terrible shape” and had never been built that well in the first place, Tindall recognized its possibilities.

“I’ll tell you, I’m the luckiest guy in the world to be able to do this,” Tindall said.

Spud Boy Diner photos courtesy of Michele Jokinen/Post-Bulletin

It’s in the name

Once you get to know a little bit about Tindall, you begin to understand why he thinks he’s so lucky. Raised on a New Jersey potato farm, Tindall learned to take apart and reassemble almost anything, a skill he picked up from his dad. From his mother, an artist, came his creative side and his feel for color.

Indeed, one of the diner’s distinctive features the picture of a boy wearing a hat on the diner’s front was taken from a painting his mom did of him when he was a boy. Tindall’s nickname as a boy was Spud Boy, hence the restaurant’s name.

Restoring diners engages both sides of Tindall’s nature. And his artistic side is on full display as he moves through the small intimate space of the diner, describing little touches he has made to the restaurant, from a Smoky the Bear no-smoking sign to some old benches he found at an antique shop,

“I’m kind of half and half. I like going to art galleries, and I like going to stock car races,” he said.

Since moving the wheeled diner onto a small downtown lot in Lanesboro late last year, “Spud Boy” invariably draws stares and visitors. It slows his work down a little, but Tindall says he doesn’t mind.

“I welcome it. I like people coming by and showing an interest,” he said.

You would be hard pressed to find another person as engaged as Tindall is restoring an old restaurant. But Tindall says it’s not the most challenging project he has undertaken. That distinction would reserved for the house he and his wife are fixing up.

“If you could see that house, this diner is nothing compared to the headache this house is,” he said. “But it was the only house we could afford.”