Part 3 of my April Vacation, 2011 begins on Monday morning (4-18-11) before sunrise. I left Albany by way of U.S. Rte. 20 heading east. I drove into Pittsfield, Mass. and decided to see if Adrien’s Diner might be open. It was around 5:30 am and there was no one around. The operating hours were not posted so I was not sure if they were even opening (it was Patriots Day, a Massachusetts holiday, although not everyone gets it off). I decided not to hang around and coninued east toward the town of Lee. Once I got there, I saw that Joe’s Diner was open. I figured it was about time I checked it out as it is a somewhat famous place. Joe’s is not a factory-built diner but a small storefront type diner. It is famous for being the place where Norman Rockwell set his well known iconic 1958 painting, “The Runaway”.
I had a pretty decent breakfast at Joe’s Diner and then got back on the road, continuing east on Route 20. As I mentioned in Part 1, I needed to get to 5 diners in the western part of Massachusetts on my way home from Albany for info and photos for my “Classic Diners of Massachusetts” book. My next destination was the Route 66 Diner on Bay Street in Springfield and it had been a while since I was last there. I did not need exterior photos of this diner as I figured the last ones I shot a few years ago were good. Unfortunately, owner Don Roy was not there, I was told he was in Florida. So I obtained a takeout menu and took 2 interior photos. Here is one of them below…….
I left Springfield and jumped on I-91 northbound to get up to Northampton. Once I got there I headed back west on Route 9 to visit the Miss Florence Diner. I had not been to the Miss Flo since the Alexander family sold it 10 years ago. The place looked good and I got some new photos (exterior and interior). They had no takeout menus as they were actually having new ones being printed. I started taking notes from their extensive menu and thought this might take all day, and then one of the waitresses told me that the menu was pretty much all on their website. I got the name of the owner who was not there, (John Zantouliadis) and called him later in the week for some background. It seems he is not the person who bought the diner from the Alexanders, he is actually the second owner after them. (He also told me the takeout menu came in from the printers the day before) Anyway, here are some shots….
I went back to Northampton but continued past the center of town toward the Route 9 Diner in Hadley a few miles to the east. This is one of the newer diners in Massachusetts. It came to town as the Sit Down Diner, brand new from Kullman Industries, but the original owner went out of business and the diner was bought back by Kullman at auction and they turned around and found new operators, Chris Karabetsos and Archie Sideris who have been very successful with the business in the intervening years.
I headed back to Northampton and drove north on Route 5 (King Street) to the Bluebonnet Diner. Jim Greco was given a heads-up by his son Tony that I was coming. Jim was very helpful and it is obvious he takes pride in the business that his dad and uncle started in 1950.
The Bluebonnet has been added onto over the years and features a cocktail lounge as well as a huge function facility. Through all this, the diner section itself has pretty much stayed original with the exception of some updated windows and light fixtures. The diner is popular with regular customers as well as the out of town transient crowd that frequent it.
From Northampton I jumped back on I-91 to get up to Whately where the Whately Diner Fillin’ Station was awaiting me. This diner is a true 24 hour “truck stop diner” catering to truckers at Exit 24 off I-91. This is a “Princess” model built by Kullman Diners circa 1960 and was originally operated as the Princess Diner in Chicopee, Mass. It was bought in the early 1970’s by F.L. Roberts, a local company that has a chain of convenience stores, car washes and gas stations in the area. They moved the diner from Chicopee to Whately and ran it as the Maverick Diner for a time prior to renaming it to its current name.
After Whately, I scooted back home by I-91 and Route 2. I was out again the next morning and visited Buddy’s Diner in Somerville. I used to be a semi-regular here but have not visited it in a while. This is a 1929 vintage Worcester Lunch Car that has been at this location since the early 1950’s. Currently owned by Nicole Bairos, it is primarily operated by her cousins Kim Bairos & Niko Makrigiannis as well as short order cook extraordinaire, Jose Ramirez.
The next short roadtrip was out to Worcester on Thursday for more photos and info for the book. This time, Denise went with me. First stop was Blanchard’s 101 Diner. I have written extensively about this diner in a few previous posts since they opened over 3 years ago, (wow, it’s that long?). It was great to see Chris Blanchard. I got some new shots, inside and out plus a copy of their menu.
Next stop was a few miles to the west on Route 9 – to Spencer, Mass. and a visit to Charlie’s Diner Bar & Grill. Charlie’s was moved from its long-time operating location on Plantation St. in Worcester a number of years ago. It stayed in storage for a couple of years before it found a home in Spencer. Within the last 2 years they added on to the existing structure with a bar & grill to expand the operating hours. From what a very tired Steve Turner told me, the new addition to the business has been a success.
After Charlie’s we went back to Worcseter and our final destination of the Boulevard Diner. If one was ever to look for a museum quality working diner, this is it! The Bully is almost hard to describe, from the fantastic food, to the condition of the building, to the people who patronize the place and the people working behind the counter….. this diner has it all! I spoke with Jim George for quite a while, and we had a great conversation! He mentioned that he recently started making his own Italian Sausage again after many years of purchasing the product of a local meat purveyor. He said when he was a youngster working for his dad at the diner, making the home-made sausage was one of his regular duties and now he has come full circle. I will tell you, he had my mouth watering!
We actually did eat lunch at the Boulevard, but no Italian food (darn). Denise and I split a wonderful BLT on toasted Italian Bread with french fries! Well, that was it for my vacation week, the rest of it was spent winding down to Easter weekend and doing a little writing.