From the Archives – 3 Diners that don’t exist anymore

It is snowing to beat the band here right now and they are calling it the Blizzard of 2010!  Work was actually called off and that almost never happens! So I decided to scan some photos of 3 diners built by the Worcester Lunch Car Company that I photographed before they ceased to exist. I’ll post them in order of their Car numbers.

Leary’s Auto Sales, Tyngsboro, Mass.
(formerly Al’s Diner of Lowell, Mass. WLC No. 795)

Leary’s Auto Sales/former Al’s Diner photo circa 1980-81 by Larry Cultrera

I passed this diner quite a few times using the Westford Road exit off U.S. Rte. 3 near the Massachusetts / New Hampshire border in Tyngsboro. It was being used for storage as part of Leary’s Auto Sales when I saw it. I am not sure it was ever operated as a diner in this location.

Leary’s Auto Sales/former Al’s Diner photo circa 1980-81 by Larry Cultrera

Originally known as Al’s Diner, I believe it operated on Bridge Street not far from the Paradise Diner (in fact it may have been across the street). This was Worcester Lunch Car No. 795 and had a partitioned-off kitchen down on the right-end of the diner. I recall looking inside through the left-side door and seeing that the interior was basically intact, other than being used for storing old tires and such. It was demolished within the next few years of when I photographed it.

Lucci’s Barbershop, Westminster, Mass.
(formerly the Cape Ann Diner of Gloucester, Mass.
& Westminster, Mass. WLC No. 800)

Lucci’s Barber Shop, April 3, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

This diner was hiding down behind a small strip mall on Route 2A in the small North Central Massachusetts town of Westminster when I found it in April of 1982. It was moved to Westminster in 1948 as a “used” diner after doing a short stint in Gloucester. The original owners in Gloucester were so successful with this diner that they immediately went back to Worcester Lunch Car Co. and ordered a larger one!

The person who bought the diner decided to leave the name as “Cape Ann” mainly because he did not want to spend the money for new porcelain-enameled steel panels. It operated here for many years directly on Main Street at the corner of Eaton St. Main St. was Route 2 before they built the highway north of this point.

Lucci’s Barber Shop, April 3, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

Sometime in the 1970’s (I believe) the diner was moved about 30-40 feet behind where it had been and turned to face Eaton St. The interior was gutted and all the equipment and such was sold off. A partition was placed in the middle (front to back) to create 2 spaces. One side became a Real Estate office while the other side became Lucci’s Barbershop. They also, as my photos show, disguised the barrel roof of the diner with what I call a reverse Mansard. According to my log, this diner was demolished by 1988.

Sea Gull Diner, Kittery, Maine
(WLC No. 840)

Seagull Diner Route 1 Bypass, Kittery, Maine
October 24, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera 

This is the first diner that Worcester Lunch Car Co. built with “rounded” corners, basically copying what the New Jersey competition had been doing for years. It was a large diner, very beautiful inside and out and all original when I photographed it in 1981. Worcester only built 6 diners like this, Nos. 840, 841, 843, 844, 845 & 847.

Of these 6 “Jersey-style” diners, No. 845 was actually built with a vestibule, diner section and kitchen section (the only multi-section diner built by them ….. the Vermont Squire Diner of Brattleboro, VT). Only 2 of these 6 diners are still physically with us. That would be The Breakfast Club Diner in Allston, Mass. (No. 841, originally Fahey’s Diner, it is still operating) and Wesson’s Diner of Burlington, VT (No. 843, currently in storage).

Seagull Diner Route 1 Bypass, Kittery, Maine
October 24, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera 

The Sea Gull may have originally been known as the Pine Tree Diner, at least that is what is written on the Worcester Lunch Car Co. car drawing. I am not sure it actually operated under that name but it was the Sea Gull Diner by the 1970’s. I recall it was a 24 hour diner back in the early to mid 1980’s. It closed by around 1989 and was moved off site just across the street.

It was bought by John Keith who was brokering diners for a couple of years and he sold it to Trevor Gulliver of London, England who had it transported over to Great Britain around 1990 or 91. It was set up in Birmingham, England as one of the Fat Boy’s Diners (a chain Gulliver had for a few years). Unfortunately, it was burned rather mysteriously in a fire a few short months after opening there.

11 thoughts on “From the Archives – 3 Diners that don’t exist anymore

  1. Beth, I worked at the Seagull for a few years back in the mid 50’s, Have many fond memories myself. I got out of Traip around 2:00 and went to work at 3:00. I noticed they mentioned The Pine Tree Diner. It was the Seagull as long as I can remember and that was 1953 when it opened on what we called the dime bridge. It was never “Moved” across the street. Howells City Service stole the name for their truck stop snack bar

    • Harrie, the diner DID move across the street for temporary storage prior to moving eventually to England. It did not operate across the street. I have photos of it there.

      • sorry I stand corrected Just knew Howells truck stop added Seagull to it’s service stations snack bar. do you have a site where I can see seagull. I have the news tape as its going down the road on truck
        I have a Chritmas post card Jimmy Canty sent out for christmas under my desk glass

  2. we used to go to the “the dirty bird” after our dates back in 1970. I was still a senior in high school @ Portsmouth H.S. what fond memories of the “bird” we have…and yes, I married the guy too.

  3. I worked at the Seagull Diner in 1977 – 78. An old W-2 shows the name Pine Tree Diner. I believe that was the Corporation name – not the Diner name. I think Fisherman’s Pier was part of the same corporation owned by Jimmy Canty. And maybe also Jimmy Canty’s Shanty?

  4. I have lots of great memories of the Seagull Diner and Jimmy Canty’s Shanty. I worked there while in High School as a busboy, dishwasher and a cook. So sorry to hear about it burning up overseas. I was hoping to see it again at some point. This is where I really grew from a teenager into adulthood working with great folks and making some life long friends.
    I hope they are all doing well and may god bless them all,

    • I think I worked there with you Thomas Greenier – (and Lori), and Leslie, and “Stephen Canty”,…Joan Hamel, Barbara Newman, Steve Thompson I think?, (he now fixes cars in Eliot/York I think Ross said?), I know there were several others who will kill me if they read this, cause’ I can’t remember all the names, I love/d working with you all…, and last, but definitely not least, my brother Ross Mellen, who I shared duty’s with and sometimes even shifts, usually him 1st and me 2nd shift, but it all depends on what Jimmy(& Stephen wanted-needed)…. I had seen Stephen through the years afterwards, and he had told me the Diner had shipped to England, then tragically burned, and I still remember the side-attached Fishermans Pier Rest. and the short lived Pier 2 in Portsmouth,NH under the old WW1(now newly replaced Bridge,underneath at the round about by the Prescott Park – Parking lot), “that” Jimmy also owned, but again,that actual tenure was short lived… I loved working there at the SeaGull, eating there, the 10Cent for 1 song and 25Cent for 3 song dial-a-dex players at each window booth seat and so, so many good times there….the day Stephen taught me meat/toast/eggs, how I got a free meal each night for work as part of the required pay of working full time at a restaurant in those days,which I ran to work and home from everyday, (2 cheeseburgers and a small fry, Stephen would ask, don’t you want anything else, nope 2 cheeseburgers medium well done, and sometimes also a fry….Heck I ran to work and then home, Fry’s or no Frys didn’t matter…I burned right through it… and the late night stop there after Basket-Ball games with my sister Beth, Dad and Red Chase….listening to Sugar, Sugar by the Archie’s on the radio…being so tired we laughed the whole time at the Diner, all of us did…. Shuggee, Shuggee “Red said’… I miss that Diner and those simpler times/days…. “RIP SeaGull”…

      • My uncle Jim Canty was a character and so isn’t my cousin Steve. I have great memories as a kid growing up in the 60’s and sitting at the booths with the old record machines. Jimmy was my mother’s brother and we often visited the diner and his house not far from the Diner. His brother John Canty had an American Pizza and Beer restaurant in Cadiz, Spain, another brother Ray Canty had a Chicken BQ shack in North Andover, MA and one of Jimmy’s sisters also had a Restaurant called The Snow Goose in Lincoln, NH. I had heard rumors that the Seagull diner was moved to England and was destroyed in a fire. I’m glad to hear these stories and memories. Such good times we endured. Thanks a Million for sharing. Ken Black

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s