Continuing on with last week’s post (Top 10 Diners of Massachusetts) I will name my next 10 favorite diners of the Bay State. This new edition of the list will continue with factory-built diners as well.
Boulevard Diner, 155 Shrewsbury Street
1937 vintage Worcester Diner
Originally owned by Fred J. Galanto, this diner has been operated by the George family for decades. Refurbished in recent years, this wonderful example from the late 1930’s of the venerable Worcester Lunch Car Company is shiny again, both inside and out. The rooftop neon as well as the neon sign hanging from a pole on the right-hand side is also shining brightly. One thing that did not need refurbishing is the tried and true menu they have always served here. They do breakfast, lunch and dinner equally well.
Because of it’s location on Shrewsbury Street (which has been traditionally the “Italian” neighborhood of the city) they have some great Italian specialties, including Ziti and Meatballs (or Sausage). They also feature some basic deserts such as Grapenut Pudding (my favorite). Open 24 hours, it is certainly a late night favorite in Worcester.
Tex Barry’s Coney Island, 31 County Street
late 1920’s vintage Worcester Diner
As I mentioned in the intro to the Top Ten Diners list last post, in this installment I am including some diners that serve a limited menu and to further clarify… diners that don’t serve breakfast. Tex Barry’s is one of these.
Tex Barry’s Coney Island Hot Dogs in Attleboro was once part of a 15 unit chain of stores of which only 2 survive. This one and one in Taunton. This Tex Barry’s is housed in a late 1920’s vintage Worcester Lunch Car and has had quite a few names since it was installed (I understand it has always operated at this site). Tex Barry’s took over this diner around 1982 or 1983 when the diner they were originally in behind the Post Office was torn down. That diner was at least as old as the current one if not a little older.
This has become a favorite of mine in the last 3 years or so, (one of those places I wished I lived closer to). Part of it has to do with the Hot Dogs but mostly because Arthur Bombadier who runs the place is a great guy who really appreciates his customers, whether they are regulars or first-time visitors. This place is a must stop if you like Hot Dogs and Hamburgers and French Fries!
Buddy’s Diner, 113 Washington Street
1929 vintage Worcester Diner
I have been going to Buddy’s since 1979 or 1980 and not much has changed over the years in this small Worcester car. It was operated since 1965 by the Barrett family until about 3 years ago when they sold the business to Nicole Bairos. It features the typical breakfast and lunch menu you would expect at any diner. The prices are low for most items and the service is quick, although during rush times the orders can back up slightly but that is to be expected in such a small place.
Victoria’s Diner, 1024 Massachusetts Avenue
1965 vintage Swingle Diner
I have been going to this diner since I was around 12 years old. In fact it was brand-new then, having been installed by the Swingle Diner Company the same year. In fact it is now the only diner still in existence that I used to go for breakfast with my Dad when I was a kid!
This diner replaced a 1949 vintage stainless steel Jerry O’Mahony diner run by the Georgenes family. They sold the business 6 or 7 years ago and it is currently run by the same people who run the Breakfast Club Diner in Allston (another section of Boston). The current owners have spruced up the menu a little bringing it into the 21st century creating a younger vibe than it previously had. They do serve breakfast lunch and dinner here, 7 days a week.
Parkway Diner, 148 Shrewsbury Street
1930 vintage Worcester Diner
Like its neighbor across the street, (the Boulevard Diner) the Parkway Diner has a loyal clientele. They also have a similar menu to the Boulevard and I have always said, if you had ordered say the ziti and sausage in either restaurant and you were blindfolded, you would not know which place you were sitting in! At least that has been my experience.
Although the exterior of this diner has been modified with stucco and a different roof as well as additions on either side, the interior of this diner is just about the way it came out of the Worcester factory almost 80 years ago. I don’t believe they keep the same long hours as the Boulevard but breakfast and lunch are a good bet here as well.
Casey’s Diner, 36 South Avenue, Natick, Mass.
1922 vintage Worcester Diner
Probably one of the oldest operating diners in the country today, Casey’s Diner in Natick still packs them in literally as well as figuratively. It is what we call a 10-stooler and if not for the take-out window on the right side of the diner, things would probably be a little different. Like Tex Barry’s, Casey’s is famous for Hot Dogs. But unlike Tex Barry’s grilled dogs, Casey’s are boiled and the buns are steamed!
Operated by the third and fourth generation of the Casey family, the menu also includes hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and Table Talk Pies. Breakfast is not served here and they are usually closed the month of August.
Kelly’s Diner, 674 Broadway, Somerville, Mass.
1947 vintage Jerry O’Mahony Diner
I first saw this diner on Memorial Day weekend in 1982 when it was located near Hares Corner, Delaware. At that time it was known as the Grecian Diner. In a strange circumstance, 13 years later it would show up in Somerville about 2.5 to 3 miles from where I lived in Medford!
In the early 1990’s a store block that was on the corner that Kelly’s occupies currently had burned down. The remains of the building were cleared and the lot stood vacant for a short period. Along comes Larry Holmes of Winthrop, Mass. (a native of Somerville) who has the chance to buy the property. Larry had previously bought the former Peter Pan Diner out of Khunsville, PA and moved it to Falmouth, Mass. and set it up as Betsy’s Diner to critical acclaim.
Larry subsequently sold that business and was again looking to do something similar, closer to home. I believe it was Dick Gutman who informed him of the availability of the diner in Delaware. Larry travelled twice if not three times down to Delaware to check the place out and more importantly to get exact measurements of the building.
This was crucial as the diner was quite large and the plot of land in Ball Square looked awfully small. In fact the diner came within 6 inches of not fitting the property. Once on site the diner looks like it has always been there!
Anyway, Kelly’s Diner is currently run by Larry’s son and daughter Jay Holmes and Kelly August. It is open 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch. It does a huge business on Saturdays and Sundays, where you can usually see a line out the door.
Don’s Diner, 121 South Street, Plainville, Mass.
1950’s vintage Mountain View Diner
Unfortunately, Don’s Diner does not look like my circa 1981 photo above anymore. Owner Phyllis Perreault told me that by the early 1990’s, the stainless steel facade was showing much wear and tear and it would have been cost prohibitive to restore the diner using similar exterior materials.
So they had the panels under the front and side windows removed and the areas resurfaced with vinyl siding. A mansard roof was also placed over the roof parapet giving the diner a completely different look. Ironically, the rounded corner stainless panels remain giving a glimpse of the buildings heritage. The interior is pretty original and well maintained.
This is the third diner on this site. The original “Don”, Phyllis’ father in-law bought the former Alicia’s Diner in 1936 and renamed it. This diner lasted until the early 1960’s when the Perreault’s had to replace the old 9 stool diner after a fire. The Service Diner from Providence, RI was available so this was moved in to do duty as the new Don’s Diner.
In 1969, the family upgraded again to the former Minute Man Diner that operated on U. S. Rte. 1 in Attleboro, the current Mountain View Diner. The Service Diner went out to Rte. 1 to operate as the Red Rock Diner and Eddie and Miles Diner before being forced to move for the Emerald Square Mall. Since 1989 it has been relocated to Bolton Landing, NY on Lake George where it currently operates as Bolton Beans.
Don’s Diner serves breakfast and lunch Tuesday thru Friday, 6:00 am to 2:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 7:00 am to 1:00 pm.
The Lunch Box Diner, 906 Eastern Avenue,
1932 vintage Worcester Diner
Originally one of Al Mac’s Diners located in Fall River, this is a unique Worcester Diner, the Lunch Box has more of a Lunch Wagon interior. There is a serving counter that fronts the “kitchen area” at the end away from the street. there are counter shelves by the windows on both sides with stools for 9. This diner originally came out of the factory set up like most diners with the counter going lengthwise and small booths by the front windows. But sometime in the late 1930’s the owner had the Worcester Lunch Car people come in and reconfigure it on site.
From what I know the diner ended up in Malden in the early 1950’s and it has been here ever since. It has gone under names such as Viv’s Diner, Judy’s Diner, Rose’s Lil’ Red Diner and Uncle Lester’s Diner.
It was operated by John Harmon for almost 2 years as Lulu’s before he closed it. John had some great food but could not make a go of it. Scott and Kristen Drago took it over and renamed it yet again to The Lunch Box Diner.
The Drago’s created a very popular business here but eventually sold the business to Nick Master who is currently operating it. Open for breakfast and lunch Monday thru Saturday, breakfast only on Sundays.
Little Depot Diner, 1 Railroad Avenue
1929 vintage Worcester Diner
Originally Harry’s Diner in Lynn, Mass., This diner has been in its current location since the 1950’s. Long operated as Kurly’s Diner it has changed hands 3 times since Mort Kurland retired in the early 1980’s. Operated as the Railroad Diner and more recently as the Whistlestop Diner, the diner became the Little Depot in early 2008 when Jim and Judy Miles took over the reigns.
The diner has really gotten back to being a popular local breakfast place, especially since the Bel Aire Diner closed and the Foster Street Diner has been relocated to Rhode Island. Though small, the diner seems to put out a great meal served in a pleasant atmosphere.