I have been a little remiss in posting anything throughout November as I was scanning a bunch of slides, 180 or so (to be sort of exact). They were all of the photos/slides I had ever shot of Rosie’s Diner when it was in Little Ferry, NJ. The bulk of the slides came from the last weekend of operation in January of 1990 and the preparation for moving the structure on the next weekend. I had promised my friend Arnie Corrado (son of former owner Ralph Corrado, Jr.) back then that I would give him copies of all the photos I had shot. This plan sort of became cost restrictive when I realized how many images there were. Well, with all the new digital technology at my disposal nowadays, I could finally keep my promise. So for almost 3 weeks, I spent the extra time I had scanning all the images. Better late than never! I actually turned it into a slide show movie which can be found on Youtube……… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XlDiGzRM3I. I will eventually do a post about it here in the near future. Now on to the subject of this post……
A year ago Denise and I had made a trip (along with Beth Lennon and Cliff Hillis) up to Salisbury, Massachusetts to meet with Roger Elkus and Daryl McGann who had purchased the former Monarch Diner, originally of Dover, NH. The diner had not been in service since the early 1970s when it last operated in South Berwick, Maine. Dave Pritchard of Salisbury had started buying old diners a number of years ago and storing them at his truck/trailer company yard in Salisbury. The diners included the Miss Newport Diner of Newport, VT (now the Miss Mendon of Mendon, Mass.) the Englewood Diner last operated in Dorchester, Mass., and the Olympian Diner formerly of Braintree, Mass. as well as the Monarch. When we got into the yard I noticed the only diners left were the Monarch and the Olympian. I asked Roger and Daryl what happened to the Englewood and they told me that the owner of New Balance Footwear had purchased it and moved it to an undisclosed location.
Fast forward to October 25, 2013, when I received an email from Randy Garbin that had some attached photos from someone named Todd Purple. The message that accompanied the photos was short and sweet….. “Did you know about this”? I checked out the photos and low and behold, there was the former Englewood Diner looking to be completely restored on the exterior, sporting a new name….. Red Line! According to the email, it was located down behind 38 Everett Street in the Brighton section of Boston. Everett St. runs between Western Ave. in Allston and North Beacon St. in Brighton. The area was once primarily a mix of houses and somewhat run-down industrial buildings that has had a rebirth with parts of it being resurrected as an upscale office park. In fact a huge part of this rebirth can be directly attributed to New Balance Footwear as their Headquarters is located within a block of this property.
So, the 25th being a Friday, I decided to take a ride over to Brighton to check out this new location the very next day, where I managed to shoot some nice photos of it.
In looking closely at the exterior, the new steel panels seem to be painted instead of the porcelain enameled panels it originally had. Certainly a reasonable facsimile of the originals… and let me be clear, this was professionally done. Even the roof shingles look similar though not identical to what had previously been there, giving it a period look in keeping with the original style of the diner. The interior did not need much as the following photos show….
Early on the next week I did some digging and was able to leave a message to a department in the corporate offices at New Balance Footwear. Within a couple of hours my wife Denise called to let me know there was a message from someone named Laurie at New Balance. When I returned her call, Laurie informed me that the restored diner is being used for corporate functions only and not open to the public (as I suspected).
As I mentioned above, the Englewood Diner operated for years in the Peabody Square neighborhood of Dorchester. It closed in 1979 when the land it was on was slated to be redeveloped, replaced by a high-rise building for senior housing. This was almost a year before I started photographing diners so I never was able to document it in that location. But luckily it was documented by others like David Hebb and Dick Gutman. Dick was kind enough to lend me this image (below) of the Englewood Diner when it was located across from Ashmont Station in Peabody Square, Dorchester…..
So after it closed in 1979, the diner was moved to Pat’s Towing Company yard in the Cambridgeport neighborhood, just outside of Central Square in Cambridge. It stayed at that storage location through 1981.
In fact, Dick and Kelly Gutman were the ones who showed me where it was being stored on one of our first “Diner Excursions” in 1981 where I obtained the photo above. It was relocated to the Cambridge/Somerville town line in a yard maintained by Wayside Leasing on Park Street just off Somerville Avenue, where it stayed until 1984.
In 1984, the diner was bought by Brian Burke, a general contractor from Dorchester. His plan was to repatriate the diner back to its longtime hometown. He had some property adjacent to the Bradlees department store that was on Morrissey Boulevard at the corner of Victory Road. Burke took his time in setting up the diner and finally opened it in 1986. It was operated by at least two if not three operators prior to closing in the early 1990s.
In 1992, the Englewood was closed and sold at auction to Dennis “Skip” Scipione, owner of the Blue Moon Diner in Gardner. Skip had plans to reopen the diner and kept it in storage in neighboring Ashburnham, Mass. until the right time and place came about. It looked like it would happen in 1997 when the diner moved to the northern part of Fitchburg. The next 3 photos show the diner at that proposed location….
This location in Fitchburg never actually came to fruition and the diner embarked on a series of moves to at least two if not three different storage locations over the next few years. In fact Skip finally sold the diner to Dan Johnston in the year 2000. Johnston purchased it for $20,000, moved the diner to the town of Holden. Johnston’s plans for the diner were somewhat vague. In one instance he talked about reopening it and another was possibly attaching it to his house for private use. None of that ever happened and in fact, according to Randy Garbin of Roadside Online, Johnston even had the diner listed on Ebay for a short time.
While in Johnston’s possession, the diner ended up taking its longest round trip to be in a big budget Hollywood movie! Johnston was approached by Dreamworks Production Company in 2001. Dreamworks wanted to use the diner in a scene of the movie “Road to Perdition” starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. According to Garbin as quoted from his book Diners of New England, Dreamworks reportedly paid Johnston nearly $40,000 giving Johnston the first option to purchase it back after the scenes in the movie were completed.
The diner was transported to the Chicago area for the film and Johnston bought it back for less than half his original sale price. As Garbin noted the time-frame of the film was set in 1931 while purists would note that the diner is from 1941…… details, details!!!
Publicity still showing the Englewood Diner during its star turn
from the Hollywood production of Road to Perdition.
photo courtesy of http://film-grab.com/tag/daniel-craig/
A few months after Johnston got the diner back he flipped it yet again to Matt Letellier of Eliot, Maine whose plan was to attach the diner to his on-site built Downeast Diner. The next 3 photos show the Englewood in Eliot, ME….
Unfortunately, Letellier’s plans never came to be and he turned around and sold the diner to Dave Pritchard in 2003. That is when the Englewood came to Salisbury where it stayed until 2012 and ultimately purchased by New Balance Footwear.
I will say that although this diner has had an interesting life in the last 35 years, it can also be said that it probably has the most mileage, being one of the most traveled diners in history! Now that it has found more than likely a permanent home in Brighton, as well as a new lease on life…. it is almost like an old racehorse being put out to pasture in its golden years!