Salem Diner being sold to University

Salem Diner, April 5, 2009 photo by Larry Cultrera

I was totally surprised to read that George and Zoe Elefteriadis, owner/operators of the Salem Diner of Salem . Mass. have been made an offer they could not refuse. Neighboring Salem State University has just announced they are buying the diner from the Elefteriadis’ for $600,000. Denise and I are fairly regular customers and try to get there at least once every 2 weeks or more. Anyway, here is an article from the Salem News about the pending sale……

I will attempt to find out more this Saturday when we head up for breakfast bright and early.

Roger’s Redliner Diner finds a home

Back in December I made a visit to Salisbury, Mass. to reconnect with a diner I first saw in 1989. I wrote about it here in January…. This was the former Monarch Diner that was originally located in Dover, NH from 1950 to 1968. It was moved to North Berwick, Maine and operated for a short time as Lois’ Diner. It remained closed on-site in North Berwick from 1973 to 1986 and was moved to storage in Sanford, Maine, where I first saw it in 1989. Here is a post I did in March of 2010 on abandoned diners that shows the diner in Sanford…..

Ironically I saw this diner along a stretch of road somewhere in southern Maine possibly 10 years later. I believe it was in transition and possibly on its way to Salisbury where it remained in storage until 2 weeks ago. Roger Elkus who is the owner of the “Me & Ollie’s Bakery/Cafe chain of southeastern NH along with his production manager Daryl McGann have plans to reopen the former Monarch Diner and operate it as Roger’s Redliner Diner. It will become an anchor of one end of  the new section of Southgate Plaza shopping center being constructed on Lafayette Rd (U.S. Rte. 1) abutting Water Country water park. In fact, it looks like the building for the kitchen/rest rooms is actually part of the new addition to the shopping center. Basically the diner will be grafted to the front of that building. They have a lot of work to do to get this diner up and running again. All the windows need replacement glass and the exterior needs some sprucing up. All the original stripes (I am assuming they were red – possibly flex-glass reflective strips) are missing. These can easily be replaced with a red plastic or enamel strip and an entryway vestibule will need to be either recreated or a reasonable facsimile be built. Elkus and McGann are shooting for an opening in the Fall of this year. We wish them luck!

Roger’s Redliner Diner on site at the new location in Portsmouth, NH
June 23, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Close-up of Roger’s Redliner Diner. June 23, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Roger’s Redliner Diner showing the pad and piers supporting the structure
June 23, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Rear view showing the footing of the building the diner will be grafted on to.
June 23, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Kim and Mike’s Excellent Diner Adventure!!!!

Mike & Kim Pinto on the “Diner Trail”. June 20, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I was checking out Facebook this past weekend and found a post from the Point Diner (AKA the Somers Point Diner)  of Somers Point, NJ. They basically posted a link to a new blog I had never heard of. It was called “Diner Diaries”. Written by Kim Pinto, the blog is primarily an extension of a journal that Kim is keeping for an interesting road trip she and her husband Mike have embarked on, the link for the blog is Both Kim and Mike are eduacators, Mike as a school principal and Kim teaches a combined 2nd and 3rd grade class. I read a couple of her posts on the blog and decided to get in touch with her, primarily to let her know that she is not alone in her journey and that those of us who preceded her on the “Diner Trail” can understand her quest.

Within a short period of time, I got a reply to my email and it was a very nice message to say the least…..
Hi Larry! What a completely humble moment to be contacted by you, thank you.  My second and third graders have poured over your book (Classic Diners of Massachusetts) as we planned this trip and I can’t wait to share that you sent me a note.  Our goal is to trek to Massachusetts in four days, after a stint in NYC. Your book is in my bag. This has been an incredible journey and I want to thank you for being a part of it.  I am sincerely amazed that you have photographed so many diners and have provided the world with your findings.  You sir are a difference maker.  How fun that your wife is a retired teacher.  Please tell her hello from me! Thank you again Larry for extending such kind words.  I am so very bummed I didn’t get to sit and break bread in the American Dream diner…it is so interesting that you photographed that diner from the start. Have a wonderful day!  Kim

I was certainly surprised and delighted that she has my book for a reference. As she mentioned, they were on their way to New York City and that they would be heading to Massachusetts toward mid-week. I suggested we try to get together, which she thought was a great idea. I then decided to do this post and asked her for some info about the blog/trip and this is what Kim said….

I am from West Lafayette, Indiana.  This is a $10,000 teacher creativity grant.  It is meant to rejuvenate you.  I chose to visit diners because my room is themed as a diner.  Our entire school has themed classrooms.  I was asked to select a theme that is comfortable.  My Grandmother taught me very early by example.  She was a lady with little means so eating out meant going to one of two little diners in my town.  The conversations we had were like no other while sharing a comfortable lunch together. I try to duplicate this experience in my classroom.  I thought what would be better than to go to where it all began, the east coast. In May I found out I have breast cancer, so this trip now has another meaning for me.  My son, Alex, is also along to shoot a documentary of the trip as well.  He just graduated from Columbia in Chicago in film/directing.  He will be moving to LA in August, so having him along is special. The grant pays for the whole trip, from food-self publishing a book at the end.  The idea is this is a trip of a lifetime and it is beyond that at this point…I am having the time of my life! Thank you again for taking an interest in an elementary teacher from Indiana.  My 2nd and 3rd graders will be very excited.  Also thank you for writing about me on the Diner Hotline…another kind moment. In the end I simply hope to soak this all in and put forth a book about my travels and the wonderful diners/friends I have met along the way. My two journeys will not end at the close of this trip, I think they are really just beginning.
Well, we managed to get together late on Thursday afternoon. Because there are not too many diners in this area open for dinner and the fact that they were coming up from Worcester, Mass., I instructed them to take I-290 east and I-495 north to Salisbury. Then to take I-95 south to Rte. 133 and the Agawam Diner in Rowley, Mass. This allowed them to avoid any rush-hour traffic in the Boston area by completely bypassing the city. They got there before Denise and I did so they made their presence known to Ethel DePasquale, a member of the Galanis family who own and operate the diner. We joined them within a short time and Ethel was understanding about us wanting to talk for a bit before taking our food order. When we finally decided to order, both Kim and Mike got a dinner entree while Denise was not particularly hungry (she settled for the glass of water she was drinking), I opted for a piece of the Agawam’s famous Coconut Cream pie. I very rarely get to the Agawam for anything other than breakfast and it has been years since I had their pie. It was even better than I remembered! Oh, Man!!!!! Mike, on my recommendation decided on the Native Fried Clam Roll (which they do not even have out in Indiana). This in fact was something he was totally unfamiliar with, along with a Scallop Roll or a Fried Shrimp Roll. They do not even have “Whole Clams” out there, just frozen clam strips! Kim decided on a Fried Fish sandwich. Mike has been documenting his food this trip and if anyone is curious you can see some of these on his blog…..

Yours truly and Kim Pinto outside the Agawam Diner.
June 20, 2013 photo by Denise Cultrera
Me, Kim & Mike outside the Agawam Diner
June 20, 2013 photo by Denise Cultrera
Mike, Kim & Denise at the Agawam Diner.
June 20, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I feel that Denise and I made new, life-long friends in Kim and Mike. I wish them happy travels until they get back home. I also wish Kim well with her fight against breast cancer!

New home for Hometown Diner

The Silver Diner Restaurant not showing too much silver (stainless steel)
Note that the sign says “Trailer For Sale” (I hate when people refer to diners
as trailers!) photo courtesy of Steve Harwin & Diversified Diners

Once upon a time there was a place called the Silver Diner located in London, Kentucky. This was a 1947 Silk City Diner built by the Paterson Vehicle Company of Paterson, NJ (actually, it turns out it is a 1949 vintage No. 4931). The Silver diner was a little worse for wear when it closed at the end of 2005. Steve Harwin of Cleveland, Ohio’s Diversified Diners heard about the closed diner and that it was available. Steve went down to Kentucky to inspect the diner and here is his description of what he found…..

It had a front entrance and a side entrance but the vestibule was missing. There were two doors leading out the back of the diner, a center door for the access to an annex kitchen and the door on the right side leading into additional seating area and rest rooms.

Steve also told me in a recent phone conversation that 90% of the original stainless steel facade had been stripped off when the T-111 wooden paneling was added to the facade, (as the photos show). Also, another roof had been built that incorporated the diner with the attached building. Only the stainless steel trim around the windows and the corner pieces were left intact from the diners original facade. When Harwin decided to obtain the diner, he got a crew together to extract it from the remaining structure and remove it from its site for transport back to Cleveland.

The Silver Diner in process of being extracted from the attached building.
photo courtesy of Steve Harwin & Diversified Diners

Interior view of the Silver Diner shows that a huge amount of originality existed on the inside as compared to the outside.
photo courtesy of Steve Harwin & Diversified Diners

Another interior view of the Silver Diner.
photo courtesy of Steve Harwin & Diversified Diners

As Steve Harwin goes on to say….  The diner was configured by the factory to seat 52 but we modified it slightly to allow for more spacious seating and ADA accessibility.  It measures approximately 40 foot long by 15 foot wide. It took 8 months to restore the diner for new owner Matthias Kaplanow.

Steve told me this restoration was a challenge for him. Even though he had restored quite a few Silk City Diners, all of those previous diners had porcelain enameled steel panels and not the stainless steel panels that these slightly newer models had. To assist in the restoration he traveled to Meriden, CT and took numerous photos of  the former New Palace Diner now operating as Cassidy’s Diner, which was a similar model. The photos helped him replicate the stainless steel panels that he then had to figure out how to install properly. The restoration of this was completed in 2010 and Steve was justifiably proud of the outcome. The diner was then moved to Ottawa, Ohio where Kaplanow, a German national had some property. He opened the establishment as the Hometown Diner.

Front elevation of the Hometown Diner after installation in Ottawa, OH
photo courtesy of Steve Harwin & Diversified Diners

Side elevation of the Hometown Diner after installation in Ottawa, OH
This shows the kitchen and dining room addition with matching stainless
steel facade. photo courtesy of Steve Harwin & Diversified Diners

Interior view of the Hometown Diner after installation in Ottawa, OH
photo courtesy of Steve Harwin & Diversified Diners

Unfortunately, Matt Kaplanow was under the mistaken impression that he could run the diner from his home in Germany. This arrangement did not work out and the diner was closed in 2012. Around this same time ironically  I received an email from Evie Goodspeed, (on July 10, 2012 to be exact). Evie works for Tim Halliday, the owner of 202 Truck & Equipment located in Rindge, NH. She told me in this email that they had been looking for the past year for a Diner for sale and have not had much luck. In Evie’s email to me, she basically wanted to know if I was aware of any diners in the Northeast that might be for sale. She went on to say…. we have the ability to move a diner ourselves. Any info you might have would be great.

I got back to Evie and suggested she get in touch with Dave Pritchard of Salisbury, Mass. who had 2 or 3 diners possibly for sale. She immediately answered that they had known about Dave and already checked out what diners he had, basically deciding the diners did not meet their requirements. I also told Evie about Steve Harwin and she immediately said that they had actually been in contact with Steve but communication was moving very slowly. In fact Steve ultimately told them he did not have a diner at that point in time available for sale.

So I then mentioned the former Forbes Diner in New Haven, CT which off the top of my head was the only other one I could think of at that time that was available and ready to move.  I gave her whatever contact info I had for that diner and Tim immediately decided to go down to inspect it the next day, ultimately deciding that that particular diner needed too much work. I did not hear from Evie or Tim again after that. It seems their luck would change not too long after this when Steve Harwin called to let them know of the availability of the closed Hometown Diner.

Fast forward to about a month ago…. I read online that a new diner was coming to Rindge, NH. I started reading the piece and then the light bulb went off…. I know who this is and what diner they are buying! I immediately got on the phone and talked with Evie. I said to her (without identifying myself), I see you people got the diner you were looking for! She laughed and I then identified myself and she said they had mentioned my name within the last few days and were going to let me know about the news…. but I beat them to it.

The diner was moved from Ohio to New Hampshire shortly after I spoke with Evie in early June.  Denise and I decided to take a ride this past Sunday to take a look at the diner which was reportedly already installed on a foundation at its new location, the intersection of U.S. Rte. 202 and State Rte. 119. It was a beautiful day for the ride and I was able to take quite a few great photos of the diner ….

Hometown Diner at its new location in New Hampshire
June 9, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Hometown Diner at its new location in New Hampshire
June 9, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Hometown Diner at its new location in New Hampshire
June 9, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Hometown Diner at its new location in New Hampshire
June 9, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Interior photo of the Hometown Diner, June 9, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Looks like I can still rock these thru-the-window interior shots – Thanks
Dick Gutman!!!!!

Hometown Diner at its new location in New Hampshire
June 9, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I tried to get in touch with Tim before I took the ride out to Rindge. I actually spoke to his wife Anne who told me to stop by the 202 Truck & Equipment business as Tim would be there. I did stop but the place seemed closed and no one was there. I called Tim’s house and again spoke with Anne after I got back. I asked her about the entryway and other pieces of the diner. She told me they were in a storage trailer along with that great neon sign it had in Ottawa, OH. So, I did not get a chance to meet Tim or Evie on this trip as it was sort of spur of the moment, but that will come in the future! I did eventually speak with Tim the next morning and he told me that he hopes to have the diner up and running by September. He will not be operating it himself but is in negotiations with interested people who are very experienced in running a food establishment. I certainly will be keeping tabs on this and will update the progress as well as hope to be there when the diner opens!

Goodbye to the Rosebud Diner

Well as reported in the past few months, the Rosebud Diner of Davis Square in Somerville, Mass. has finally closed under the ownership of the Nichols family after a long run. The Nichols’ actually purchased the diner from its original owner back in 1957 and almost immediately they converted it to use as a Cocktail Lounge/Bar. The backbar was removed along with all the cooking equipment and the original ventilation hood when it became the cocktail lounge. It was operated this way right up until around 1989 when the family sold it. During the time period from 1989-1994 it was operated by at least 2 different entities, one of which was a Tex-Mex place called the Cuckoo’s Nest. At that point a couple of more changes were made to the already altered interior. The original stainless steel covered refrigerator was removed and the left end of the counter was chopped off. When the place closed circa 1994, the new owners defaulted on the mortgage that was held by the Nichols family. The Nichols’ ended up getting the diner back thru land court at this point. The diner had gotten a slightly bad reputation and the Nichols’ decided that it was time to bring the building back as a true diner.

Bill and Nicky Nichols on Grand Reopening day, February, 1995 at the
Rosebud Diner –  photo by Larry Cultrera

So the family spent a few months cleaning up the interior by refinishing the original woodwork getting some used wooden booths that were not too different than what had been there originally as well as installing a new left end of the counter. They also refurbished the neon sign on the roof. The menu from 1995 to now had been slightly upscale but the diner was now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The back room which had operated as another space variously as an upscale Italian Restaurant, Night Club and eventually a venue for live music acts and bar & grill since 1995. About a year and a half ago rumors started flying that the diner was for sale. The first rumors never panned out but more recently the word got out that a guy named Marty Bloom was in the running to buy the place. Bloom had started the successful chain of upscale restaurants called Vinny Testa’s (later known as Vinny T’s) and eventually sold the chain and started other venues. Bloom’s reported plans for the diner have not sounded like he wants to retain the interior character unfortunately. He does say the exterior will remain the same and as I believe, the fact that the diner is listed in the National Register of Historic Places will not protect it from being altered. So I guess the future of this classic diner remains to be seen.

Back in March, Glenn Wells and Mike Engle decided they wanted to make a trip out from the Albany area to check out the Rosebud one last time. They were joined by myself, David Hebb, Gary Thomas and Bob Marville on March 3, 2013 and we all had breakfast. We kibitzed with Billy Nichols and Helen DeFransisco and shot some photos, etc.

Left to right, Larry Cultrera, Glenn Wells (in back), David Hebb, Mike Engle, Gary Thomas and Bob Marville at the Rosebud Diner. March 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I have been friends with Billy Nichols for around 30 years. Along with my friendship, I have actually designed the logo for their coffee mugs as well as a breakfast menu and 2 post cards for the diner. I actually had one last meal about 3 weeks ago on a Friday night and the diner closed after the day of business on Sunday May 26, 2013. I got an email this past Saturday morning from Dick Gutman who had placed a link for  a Craigslist ad  to a yard sale at the diner. They were selling off various and sundry things like dish ware, pots and pans, etc. Denise and I stopped by for one last visit.

Bill and Nicky Nichols on Saturday June 1, 2013 at the Rosebud Diner
 photo by Larry Cultrera

 Rosebud Diner during yard sale, June 1, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I’ll be keeping in touch with Billy Nichols and wish him well along with Helen DeFransisco, his dad Gally and brother Nicky. I hope the diner does not get trashed too bad, but I guess that will remain to be seen.