Notes from the Hotline, 8-28-2010

Diner Hotline meets Diner Hunter


Larry Cultrera and Spencer Stewart inside the Portside Diner
photo courtesy of Michael & Spencer Stewart

I have known Spencer Stewart for a half-dozen years. He contacted me back in 2004 to let me know how he was an avid Diner Buff (at the young age of 14) and that he was a regular reader of the old print version of Diner Hotline (SCA Journal).  I found this intriguing and actually wrote about him back then in another “Notes from the Hotline” (Spring 2005, SCA Journal).  I referred to Spencer as “the next generation of commercial archeologist” in that piece. 

We almost met a few years ago when he was on his way up north with his dad Michael for a family vacation I recall, but did not connect on that trip due to bad logistics. As a side note, about a year after I started the Diner Hotline Weblog, Spencer created his Diner Hunter blog……. (http://dinerman.wordpress.com/). We finally got the chance to meet this week when again Michael & Spencer were on their way north, this time to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the beginning of Spencer’s sophomore year at that school (with a stop in Maine along the way).

Their timing was perfect driving up from Baltimore, as they were coming into my hometown of Saugus, Mass. at exactly the same time I was driving home from work! I brought them into the house to meet Denise and to show them some of the collection on display and then we went out for a bite to the Portside Diner in Danvers. It was great to finally meet these guys!


Michael & Spencer Stewart inside the Portside Diner
photo by Larry Cultrera


Larry & Spencer standing in the drizzle outside the Portside Diner
photo courtesy of Michael & Spencer Stewart


Larry sitting in a booth, waiting for his meal at the Portside Diner
photo courtesy of Michael & Spencer Stewart

Something’s starting to happen at the Bel-Aire Diner


Bel-Aire Diner, U.S. Rte. 1 in Peabody, Mass.
photo by Larry Cultrera

I posted not long ago about the reported eventual redevelopment of the Bel Aire Diner located on U.S. Route 1 in Peabody, Mass. As I drive by the site twice a day to and from work, I have been keeping a close eye on it. Well things started to happen this week as I noticed the utility wires that connected to the diner were removed and the parking lot behind and to the right of the diner had been excavated. The gas station next door was also being dismantled.


rear view showing back of Bel-Aire Diner kitchen (w/door open)
also the partially dismantled gas station in back ground


Looking along the right side of the diner w/parking lot torn up


partially dismantled gas station, the office (to the right) will still be
used – at least temporarily.


looking back toward the diner thru the dismantled wall of the gas station

Even though I wrote in a previous post that the diner was going to be included in the newer, larger building to be built on this site, I have had conflicting reports that it may or may not actually be used and it is either going to be moved out or worse case scenario, destroyed. I looked inside the open back door to theon-site-built  kitchen and saw that it has been completely stripped of any and all equipment. The diner itself has a lot of things being stored inside from what I can tell. Also, there are architectural drawings and renderings on a wall in the gas station office that give conflicting info. The renderings show the diner as part of the new building and the newer drawings show something completely different. One thing is for sure, Red’s Sandwich Shop of Salem will be operating a restaurant in whatever building is used for food service on the site (whether it is the reused diner or something completely new).

6 thoughts on “Notes from the Hotline, 8-28-2010

    • Hi Kristen, great to hear from North Shore Dish! I like the Portside for the fact that it is open for breakfast, lunch & dinner, 6 days a week. The only other diner on the North Shore that is open longer hours is the Agawam. As for the Bel Aire, I’m not sure it is good news as the diner might not stay.

  1. Larry, please keep us posted on the Bel Aire – I can’t help but feel wary of the fact that the newer restaurant doesn’t appear to be incorporating the original diner. I hope in this day and age they are not so foolish as to demolish the diner, but who knows. So cool to see the meeting of the diner-minds, at a great ‘lil diner as well!

  2. Nice article, Larry. I hadn’t been by the Bel Aire in a couple of weeks but had been watching for any signs of the renovations you mentioned a few months ago. Charlie and I will have to go to Malden to go bowling soon so we can see the progress.

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