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!