Ugly Mug Diner proposed for Salem, Mass.

My friends Diane and Lee Wolf, owners of the Lobster Shanty in downtown Salem, Mass. are planning to open a restaurant called the Ugly Mug Diner soon, right around the corner from the Lobster Shanty. Here is a press release about their efforts……

Local Restaurateurs Seek Crowd Funding to Bring Unique Diner to Salem

February 3, 2014, Salem, Mass. — Salem residents Diane and Lee Wolf are hoping to open a diner at 122 Washington Street, previous home of A Taste of Thyme Café. Since 2007, the couple has owned and operated the popular Lobster Shanty on Artists’ Row, which was featured in an episode of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The plan for the new eatery, dubbed The Ugly Mug Diner, is to create a fun, funky combination of old and new. The diner will offer handmade, fresh foods that are locally sourced when possible while maintaining a classic diner atmosphere with weekly specials and breakfast served all day.

All photos courtesy of Diane Wolf

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exterior of the building that will house the Ugly Mug Diner. It is going into the spot on the right-hand side of the building where the blue & white sign is in the window.

Ugly-Mug-9aA close-up showing the storefront for the new establishment

“Our laser-like focus on the food will set us apart from other breakfast spots,” said Ms. Wolf, a graduate of the Culinary Arts program at Johnson & Wales University.  “We’ll be a full-service diner with culinary professionals in the kitchen. We will cure our own bacon, serve farm-fresh eggs, smoke our own salmon for bagels, and whip our own cream.  We have fostered relationships with local farmers, including Maitland Mountain Farms here in Salem, to provide us with the best foods to offer our guests.” The Wolfs are sourcing capital from several places, including RocketHub, a crowd-funding website that recently garnered attention for its partnership with A&E Networks. The couple’s goal is to raise $50,000 through RocketHub by the end of February. Within the first 12 hours of the project going live, dozens of friends and several city leaders had contributed.

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Interior detail showing the counter and stools

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Here is another interior shot looking from behind the counter toward the dining area.

Hoping crowdsourcing will help turn their diner dream into a reality, the couple is offering incentives such as the contributor’s name engraved on a dining room chair, naming rights to a menu item, a VIP dinner for six at the diner, and an in-home cooking class for six. More information on the diner and the crowdsourcing plant is at http://www.rockethub.com/projects/38812-partner-with-the-ugly-mug-diner-launch-a-new-community-breakfast-joint https://www.facebook.com/uglymugsalem

http://lobstershantysalem.com/

Even though I tend to prefer a classic factory-built diner, that does not stop me from patronizing on-site/storefront diners. I am looking forward to checking this place out when they open! Diane informs me that it might happen next month and we’ll be there!

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Suffolk Diner in Revere, Mass. reopens!

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Frank’s Suffolk Diner, February 9, 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

The diner last operated as Jonquille’s Diner in Revere, Mass. has reopened in the last 3 weeks under a variation of its original name. The diner operated under the Jonquille’s name since 2002 by John Ribeird Jr. closed circa 2010. Even though it has stayed closed for almost 4 years, the current owner to his credit did clean the place up as the previous management had let it go slightly down hill.

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Frank’s Suffolk Diner, February 9, 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

The diners original name was the Suffolk Diner and was built on-site in the style of a barrel roof Worcester Lunch Car from the 1930’s. Originally operated by Frank V. Scigliano, his son Fran was the last family member to operate it until sometime in the 1990s. I believe it changed hands once before coming under the management of Ribeird.

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Frank’s Suffolk Diner, February 9, 2014 photo by Larry Cultrera

It has finally been reborn as Frank’s Suffolk Diner by Carolina and Frank Guerrero who had previously operated the Broadway Diner in Arlington, Mass. That diner was housed in a former Dairy Queen building. The landlord of that property boosted the monthly rent to an unreasonable amount and the Guerrero’s decided it was time to close that establishment. In searching for another place they inquired about the closed Suffolk Diner and Carolina said that they were in the running to take it over along with one other interested party. The Guerrero’s got the OK to operate it because of their vast experience and after some updating of equipment, etc., reopened the diner within the last month.

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Suffolk Diner, 1980s photo by Larry Cultrera

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Suffolk Diner, 1980s photo by Larry Cultrera

Denise and I went for breakfast last Sunday and met Carolina and Frank. They seem to be doing well with the place and has a decent menu. You can get details here at… http://www.arlingtonbroadwaydiner.com/ordereze/default.aspx. Their operating hours are 5:30 am to 3:00 pm, 7 days a week. They are located at 275 Lee Burbank Highway (Rte. 1A) in Revere, just outside the Suffolk Downs Racetrack. You can also find them on Facebook… https://www.facebook.com/pages/Franks-Suffolk-Diner/369414043201996?ref=br_tf

Central Diner closes, future in doubt

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Central Diner, Millbury, Mass. Photo by Larry Cultrera

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Line-art I created for the Central Diner coffee mug for Richard & Brigid Gore back in the 1990s based on the above photo.

The Central Diner of Millbury, Mass. closed at the end of December, leaving the future of this 1930 vintage Worcester Lunch Car in doubt. Operated by Chris and Amanda White for at least 10 years. Though capable, the White’s were not the friendliest operators I have come across. It was like night and day between them and the previous owners, Richard an Brigid Gore who were very friendly and personable. The diner itself is sitting on land leased from the Millbury National Bank. I recently saw an ad on Craigslist for the diner offering it for sale.

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Central Diner, Millbury, Mass. Photo by Larry Cultrera

Denise and I drove out for one last breakfast on Saturday, December 28th where we met up with Bob Higgins. There were only 4 customers that early in the morning besides Chris and Amanda. Most of the conversation was between Bob and myself. Very somber mood, in fact the place looked almost closed from the outside. Certainly the future does not look too bright at the moment for this diner. I hope things will turn out good and the diner can survive, even if it has to move.

University reopens the Salem Diner

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The Salem Diner, July 29, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Salem State University reopened the Salem Diner in mid-January. It is being operated by the schools food service provider, Chartwells. The management of Chartwells stated that this is the first “Diner” they have attempted to run. I had gotten a heads-up from my friend Kristen Nyberg (North Shore Dish blog) who visited the diner on opening day with Diane Wolf who is the co-owner with her husband Lee of The Lobster Shanty in downtown Salem.

Kristen told me things were kind of rough that first day, service was friendly but over-all very slow. The food was unremarkable as well which sounded like a let-down from the quality of food and service under the previous owners, George & Zoe Elefteriadis. The Elefteriadis’ sold the diner to the University back at the beginning of July and the diner has been closed until now.  Kristen basically said that people may want to give the place a month or so to get into the rhythm of serving people in a diner-like environment.

We stopped by on January 18th to check it out ourselves and knew what to expect from Kristen’s info. I was happy to see that the school spent some money to replace exterior and interior lighting. The interior was freshened up with a thorough cleaning and the woodwork was re-stained as well. We met with our old friend Saadia Zraizaa who is a veteran of the local diner scene. She was hired as one of the waitresses by Chartwells and certainly a plus for the diner. She introduced us to Jim, one of the managers who was very cordial to us as well.

The service was a little rocky as we observed that the cooks, who may have been experienced, were not up to the level of short-order service that a good diner should have, in my opinion. They might have been better off having Saadia doing the cooking as she knows what the rhythm should be having actually operated her own place, the Medford Square Diner for a short period a couple of years ago.

We will get back to the diner soon and hope that things have smoothed out with the new management and crew as I really want to see this diner survive and thrive!