April Vacation, 2011 – Part 3

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”.


The Runaway, a painting by Norman Rockwell


Joe’s Diner, U.S. Rte. 20, Lee, Mass. April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Joe’s Diner, U.S. Rte. 20, Lee, Mass. April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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…….


Interior of Route 66 Diner, Springfield, Mass.
April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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….


Miss Florence Diner. April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Miss Florence Diner. April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior of Miss Florence Diner. April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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.


Route 9 Diner, Hadley, Mass. April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Route 9 Diner, Hadley, Mass.
April 18, 2011 interior photo by Larry Cultrera


Route 9 Diner, Hadley, Mass.
April 18, 2011 interior photo by Larry Cultrera

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.


Bluebonnet Diner, Northampton, Mass.
April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Bluebonnet Diner, Northampton, Mass.
April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Bluebonnet Diner, Northampton, Mass.
April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior of the Bluebonnet Diner, Northampton, Mass.
April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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.


Whately Diner Fillin’ Station, Whately, Mass.
April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Whately Diner Fillin’ Station, Whately, Mass.
April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior – Whately Diner Fillin’ Station, Whately, Mass.
April 18, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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.


Buddy’s Diner, Somerville, Mass. April 19, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior – Buddy’s Diner, Somerville, Mass.
L-R behind the counter, Jose Ramirez and Niko Makrigiannis
April 19, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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.


Blanchard’s 101 Diner, Worcester, Mass.
April 21, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior – Blanchard’s 101 Diner, Worcester, Mass.
April 21, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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.


Charlie’s Diner Bar & Grill, Spencer, Mass. The section with the dormers to the right is the Bar & Grill addition.
April 21, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior – Charlie’s Diner Bar & Grill, Spencer, Mass.
April 21, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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!


Jim George, behind the counter at the Boulevard Diner
April 21, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior – Boulevard Diner, Worcester, Mass.
Denise Cultrera in the foreground. April 21, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera


Boulevard Diner, Worcester, Mass. April 21, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

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.

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Worcester Lunch Cars No. 821 thru 828

Following up on last weeks post, I decided to show the next group of Worcester Lunch Cars. As I said at the end of the last post, Worcester Lunch Car No. 820 the former Stadium Diner of Everett, Mass. (aka the Miss Everett) was destroyed in the early 1970’s. But WLC No’s. 821 thru 828 are still in existence although not all are close to original condition or serving food.

Miss Adams Diner, WLC No.821


Miss Adams Diner at its only operating location, 53 Park St., Adams, Mass.

The Miss Adams Diner was delivered to Joseph Wilusz on December 7th, 1949 and it is still being used as a restaurant. When I first found it in the early 1980’s, it was known as the Peir 53 Restaurant. It had already gained its stone facade (instead of the porcelain steel panels) at that point. The interior was fairly original though. It has since operated under various names and had its interior trashed to a degree in the intervening years but recently went back to the original name since the property was sold. We are hopeful that new operator Philomene Rivard will return some of the lustre to this late model Worcester out in the western part of the Bay State.

Carmen’s Diner, WLC No. 822


WLC No. 822 now operating as the Computer Exchange on U.S. Rte.1,
728 Washington Street in Attleboro, Mass.

Originally known as Carmen’s Diner, it was delivered to its first operating location on Mechanic Street in Leominster, Mass. on November 1st, 1949. Sometime later it made it down to its current location in Attleboro, where it was known as the Mayflower Diner. When I first spotted this in the early 1980’s it was being used as a Ceramics Studio. Later it was a clothing store known as Bogie & Bacall’s. It is now a computer store and the interior is completely gone. You can also see from the above photo that the barrel roof is hidden.

Miss Mendon Diner, WLC No. 823


The Miss Mendon Diner, located on Rte. 16 in Mendon, Mass

Regular readers of this blog know that the Miss Mendon Diner in Mendon, Mass. was reopened this past January after being in storage for a number of years. Originally called the Miss Newport Diner, it was delivered to Noble Croft on May 16th, 1950 at its first operating location on East Main St. in Newport, VT. It operated there until it was moved in 2003 to Salisbury, Mass. where it was being stored. Kevin Meehan, owner of Imperial Cars bought the diner in 2008 and started the process of bringing this beauty back to life.

Ann’s Diner, WLC No. 824


Currently operating as Pat’s Diner, it is seen in this shot prior to the porcelain steel panels being removed by the current owner.

Ann’s Diner is now Pat’s Diner. Delivered on April 14th, 1950 to James F. Evans, it replaced an earlier monitor-roof Worcester Car that had been here for 2 years on U.S. Rte. 1 (11 Bridge Rd.) in Salisbury, Mass. It has a unique interior set-up, there is the typical counter and stools with 4 booths on the right-hand end of the diner with a partition just to the left of the front entrance. There is a large pocket sliding door in this partition to access a dining room that houses 6 booths. After Pat Archambault purchased the diner a few years ago, she removed the exterior porcelain steel panels and replaced them with t-111 wooden panels. other than that the diner is probably 90% original inside and out.

Bluebonnet Diner, WLC No. 825


Bluebonnet Diner at its only operating location 324 King St. (Rte’s. 5 & 10)
in Northampton, Mass. (Delivered May 12th, 1950)

The Bluebonnet Diner is the first of 3 diners that were built with this interesting configuration. It was built with 5 windows flanked by a door at each end of the front facade. The other 2 that were designed like this were the Miss Beverly Diner (No. 828) and Arthur’s Diner (No. 830). Eventually the owners of the Bluebonnet Diner wanted more room and decided to add onto the diner. They did this rather ingeneously by removing the left end wall and swinging it out to be level with the front facade. Then they made the addition behind this new front section. You can get a feel for what was done by looking closely at the details behind the windows in the wooden entryway as seen in the above photo. The diner not only has the added dining room but also a large function facility behind.

Jigger’s Diner, WLC No. 826


Jigger’s Diner, 145 Main St. (U.S. Rte. 1) in East Greenwich, RI
The diner was delivered here on June 21st, 1950 to Leonard Boren.

Jigger’s Diner during a small stretch in the 1980’s was completely gutted and used for storage by a neighboring paint store. It looked like this could be the end for this in-town diner until Carol Shriner got her hands on this and actually brought it back to life. Only someone with a trained eye could possibly see what is original and what is not. Carol has since moved on to other ventures but the diner is still going strong. Ordering the johnny cakes here is certainly a treat.

Peterboro Diner, WLC No. 827


Peterboro Diner as it currently looks. The original windows have been replaced. Located at 10 Depot St. just off School and Main Sts. in downtown
Peterboro, the diner was delivered on September 20th, 1950.

When I first visited this diner in the early 1980’s, it was still being run by Edward Fontaine, a brother of the original owner, Milton Fontaine. The diner was a perfectly preserved stand-alone lunch car. It was built with a partitioned-off kitchen on the right-hand end of the building as well as having the grill behind the counter. Within a couple of years the diner was sold to new owners who immediately made changes. They removed the partition and auxiliary kitchen, added new booths in this section and a large addition off the back of the diner. The large addition had room for a new kitchen, restrooms as well as more seating. They removed the grill and adjacent work station and cut a door to the new kitchen. Since then they upgraded to newer generic booths and have more recently changed the windows. I was intitially appalled at the changes, but as the years have gone by, I have mellowed my feelings and now think this place has a great small-town diner ambience.

Miss Beverly Diner, WLC No. 828


The Miss Beverly Diner as Buffalo Bill’s Roast Beef located at
386 Cabot St., Rte. 1A in Beverly, Mass. It has since been changed to a Subway Sandwich Shop. This diner was delivered on December 14th, 1950.

I recall when the Miss Beverly Diner was still the Miss Beverly Diner. This was back in the early to mid 1970’s. I never went in there although I’m sure I had plenty of opportunities at that time, as my sister lived right around the corner then. By the time I was photographing diners in 1980 the place had become Buffalo Bill’s Roast Beef. As seen in the above photo, the exterior was bricked-up under the windows and a mansard roof was built covering the original roof. Other than that the exterior changes could have been reversed. The interior was better as they still had the counter but just like Beachmont Roast Beef  (from the last post) the counter was raised to be a take-out type sevring counter. The stools were also removed and I believe the booths were changed also. It stayed this way until a few years ago when it had been closed for a short time. Then unfortunately, Subway Sandwich Shops bought the building and completely gutted the interior! If this had not happened, the place could have easily been brought back as a working diner.

This ends this series of consecutively numbered Worcester Lunch Cars as No’s 829 and 830 no longer exist. No’s. 831 thru 835 are extant, No. 836 is probably gone. No’s 837 thru 839 are still around while No. 840 is not. It is like this thru the 840’s where some are still with us and some are not. The last Worcester Lunch Car out of the factory was No. 850, currently the Route 104 Diner in New Hampton, NH.