Maine’s Farmington Diner moved 4.5 miles down the road

Moving day for the Farmington Diner finally arrived yesterday after quite a few delays. Now the developer can continue with the construction of the new Rite-Aid Pharmacy that is taking the place of the popular eatery.

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Here is a link to a New England Cable News piece on the move..   http://www.necn.com/Boston/New-England/Popular-Farmington-Maine-diner-takes-a-road-trip/1206398496.html

Now the real work begins for new owner Rachel Jackson-Hodsdon who had the diner moved to property she owns in Wilton. This is just a temporary storage site as she has plans to find a new operating location to set it up. These tentative plans include the possibility of using and serving locally grown food, not unlike the Farmer’s Diner in Queechee, VT. As is usually the case in these situations, getting the diner back up and running may take some time and certainly a lot of money, but at least it has been saved from the wrecking ball and may in fact have a new life in the near future. I wish good luck to Ms. Jackson-Hodson and her plans for the Farmington Diner! (I hope her plans include removing that ugly roof covering the diner building).

Springfield Royal Diner reopens under new management

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The Springfield Royal Diner of Springfield, VT reopened last week. Closed for the last year or so this diner is an extremely rare Mahony Diner. Mahony was one of the companies spawned by Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company. According to Dick Gutman’s American Diner Then & Now, the company only built 4 diners and as far as we know this diner could be the last one in existence.

Originally operated in Kingston, NY, where I first encountered it back in the 1980’s when it was called the Royal Diner. It closed in Kingston a few years back and was eventually bought by Matt Aldrich and moved to Springfield. He spent some time cleaning it up and building additions to both the right and left side and installed matching stainless-steel exteriors to these additions  making the whole complex a cohesive blend. These were added on to his existing building which housed his Corvette Museum. Aldrich moved his Corvette collection out of the space the museum operated from within the last 2 years and I believe he replaced it with some sort of lounge. The diner operated for around 6 years but was closed abruptly last year. In fact Matt has been selling off some coffee mugs on ebay recently, (I know, I bought one).

An article appeared in the Rutland Herald on Saturday the 22nd telling of the reopening. It is now called the Springfield Royal Diner and Pancake House. Here is a link to the article… http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080322/NEWS04/803220333/1003/NEWS02

Jack’s Diner of Albany, NY gets positive review

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The Times-Union newspaper of Albany, NY ran a nice review of Jack’s Diner yesterday. The diner, located on Central Avenue in the State Capital has been a constant fixture since 1947. Jack’s is a rare Comac Diner with alternating bands of green and yellow enamel with stainless steel and rounded corners, basically a very nice streamlined facade. and is in near original condition. Here is the text from the review…

Classic comfort food at Jack’s Diner

By JOSEPH DALTON, Special to the Times Union
First published: Thursday, March 20, 2008

On Easter morning a couple years ago, my partner and I picked up the Sunday papers and headed to the charming Miss Albany Diner for breakfast, only to find it closed. So, instead, we tried Jack’s Diner on Central Avenue. The contrast between the places is dramatic. There’s nothing particularly cute or nostalgic at Jack’s. It’s just a diner. We nicknamed it the Mister Albany. Jack’s has been around since 1947, and for the past 44 years it has been run by owner John J. Murtagh, 78, who still calls himself “the new Jack.” The diner’s heyday was back when Albany’s population was larger and Central Avenue was the destination for shopping. Murtagh says that there were once five General Motors car dealerships within one block, “and there were no McDonald’s or Wendy’s. Thursday nights the shops were open late, and Central Avenue looked like Fifth Avenue in New York.”  Well, maybe there is some nostalgia at Jack’s, after all.I’ve had a couple serviceable breakfasts at the place since that first encounter, but it has been a while, and I’d never gone for lunch until a recent weekday. Though the place was full when I arrived with a friend at around 12:30 p.m., a booth opened rather quickly. Our white-haired waitress, Janice, brought coffee ($1.25) and a no-nonsense attitude.Frequently, her voice rang through the place, as she’d call out an order or question to the kitchen. She could also be heard giving some lip to a table of four guys who were demanding this and that, but it was obvious they were regulars and everything was in good fun. According to Murtagh, Janice has been hopping tables at Jack’s for 33 years.

What better test for a diner than meatloaf ($6.60)? I was served two large slices, which had some tomato paste on the top and bits of onion and green pepper in the meat. It was tasty and rather comforting. The brown gravy, on the meat and the fluffy mashed potatoes, was clearly freshly made, since some tiny chunks of flour could be seen, though it didn’t mar the taste or texture a bit. The vegetable choices of the day were peas or corn, and the latter was obviously canned but otherwise serviceable.
The house salad ($2.75) was an unexpectedly substantial and colorful mixture of iceberg, carrots, tomatoes and celery. I didn’t understand why, but the Italian dressing came in a bowl on the side. I was also given what’s called a hard roll, though it was squishy and fresh, with a swipe of butter in the middle.

The same kind of soft hard roll served as the bun for my friend’s meal, the Jack’s Burger ($5.75), which includes cheddar cheese and bacon. It was warm and delicious and came with a large serving of fries — the kind with the ridges down the side, like they’ve been cut with pinking sheers — that were cooked to golden perfection.

For dessert, we picked the cherry pie a la mode ($3.75), and requested that the pie be warmed up a bit. It was probably obvious that we were enjoying it, but Janice nevertheless asked if she’d overdone it in the microwave.

With such a long history, Jack’s seems like something to rely on and I’ll surely be returning for some diner classics. By the way, when we recently spoke, Murtagh was noncommittal about being open this Easter Sunday.

Our meals with tax and tip came to $27.38.

Joseph Dalton is a local freelance writer who contributes regularly to the Times Union.

 

 

Former Mr. Peanut sign from Peabody, Mass. lives on in Arkansas

When I was a child, back in the late 50’s and early 60’s, whenever my Dad would take the family on rides north on U. S. Route 1 toward Salisbury or New Hampshire, I was always looking for landmarks such as the Leaning Tower (on the Prince Spaghetti House, now Prince Pizzeria) or  Ship’s Haven (later The Ship Restaurant).  In fact Route 1 was loaded with roadside visuals, not so much now but back then it was always an interesting ride. The one roadside gem I recall looking for the most was the large Mr. Peanut sign that was situated in front of the Planters Peanut House located on Rte. 1 north in Peabody. The sign was approximately 30 ft. high, you could not miss him.
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Well, by the late 60’s, Planters had closed the store and it subsequently became the Half Dollar Bar, a roadside watering hole. The sign remained in place. It was painted to look like a guy wearing a black tuxedo but was still recognizable as Mr. Peanut by the unique shape. The bar closed and was demolished by the mid-to-late 80’s. At that point the sign remained on the site which was fenced-off. As I recall, it was Pete Phillips, a colleague of mine from the Society for Commercial Archeology who found out the sign was threatened with demolition and I believe he may have been the person who contacted Planters Peanuts and told them of the sign’s impending doom.

Well unlike Dunkin Donuts who will not restore their one remaining 1957 vintage roadside neon sign in Brighton, Mass., Planters came and rescued the sign in 1988 and eventually restored it to its former glory. It is currently located at their large processing plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Here is a shot courtesy of Debra Jane Seltzer, taken recently which coincidentally is from a similar angle to my shot (above) from the 1980’s (although slightly closer)

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When I mentioned the sign’s origins to Debra after viewing her photo on Flickr, she questioned me on that fact and I said sure there were many signs similar to this but I remember when it all happened. I did some digging through my SCA NewsJournals and found the mention from Pete Phillips in the Spring 1989 issue (the very same issue that Diner Hotline first appeared).  Pete’s report mentioned the sign went to Alabama. I sent an email to Planters Peanuts asking them if it was the same sign and unfortunately, the email went to parent company Kraft Foods who could not answer the quetsion. I then got the bright idea to call Planters in Fort Smith and was put through to someone who works in the Plant Managers office. They told me that the sign in front of their plant was in fact the one from Massachusetts.

You can see Debra’s website by clicking on the link in my blogroll and you can get to her photos on flickr and see where she’s been recently by clicking this link …  http://www.flickr.com/photos/agilitynut/

Notes from the Hotline, March 17, 2008

Second visit to Blanchard’s 101 Diner for Breakfast

Steve Repucci and I got together and made the trip out to Worcester on Saturday morning for breakfast at Blanchard’s 101 Diner. We got a warm welcome from Chris and Matt who were relaxing, waiting for the morning’s customers to start showing up. It looks like things seemed to have smoothed out, and they are getting more and more comfortable running the diner.  The food as well as the service were excellent and the overall experience was pleasant, making us wish we lived closer to the diner so we could patronize it more often!

George Sanborn, dean of Massachusetts transit history dies at the age of 77

An old acquaintance of ours, George Sanborn, formerly of the Roslindale section of Boston passed away on Saturday. George I believe was a longtime member of the Society for Commercial Archeology (how I first learned of him) and a trustee of the Seashore Trolley Museum was the mainstay of  the state’s Transportation Library for nearly 4 decades. He knew virtually every bit of information including dates and other minutia of the history of Mass Transit in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He compiled a very detailed History of  the “T” which grew out of the nation’s first subway system. Back in the early 90’s Denise and I went into Boston and met with George. I was there for the express purpose of buying a copy of his history book. He was a very gracious host and even gave us free passes (which we used) to visit the Seashore Trolley Museum.
Condolences to all who knew George, he was truly one of a kind!

Main Street Station aka Fracher’s Diner has new owners

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Main Street Station, a streamliner built by Worcester Lunch Car Co. located in Plymouth, NH has recently been sold by Trish and Bob Bourque to Steve Luce of Laconia. Originally known as Fracher’s Diner it is in fairly original condition inside and out. Back in the early 1980’s when I originally documented this diner it had a brick facade covering the porcellain steel panels as well as a wooden shake mansard hiding the monitor-style roof.

The Bourque’s are the ones credited with removing the brick to reveal the almost perfect panels underneath. They did not quite go all the way and remove the mansard, they just recovered it with green colored standing seam metal sheathing. Their reason for leaving the mansard is it hides all the hvac equipment and ducts that are on the roof. Anyway, here is a link to the Foster’s Democrat news article about the sale of the diner…. http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080311/GJBUSINESS02/10761469/0/FOSBUSINESS

P.S. thanks to Glenn Wells for calling attention to this news, I would have seen it later myself but he got it before I did!

The former Al’s Diner of Lawrence, Mass. reopens as Charlie’s Diner

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I heard from Bob Higgins on Friday who mentioned that Worcester Lunch Car # 720, the only diner known to have been built by the company in the Depression year of 1934 (as quoted from Gary Thomas’ Diners of the North Shore) reopened two months ago as Charlie’s Diner after being closed for quite a few months. Originally built for Charles B. O’Neil and called “O’Neil’s, it was a top of the line model.

It was renamed “Al’s Diner” when a longtime employee, Al Demuth bought it from O’Neil in 1953, and he ran it for over 30 years. It was more recently run by Ken Field who did a wonderful job of reversing a 1976 remodelling of the diner (at least on the interior) mostly due to a fire that did quite a bit of damage.

Doing most of the work himself he was able to bring a semblance of originality back by replacing or refinishing the wooden ceiling and other trim which had been covered up by green laminate paneling in the old remodelling.

The new owners have plenty of experience as they had run the Arlington Diner-Restaurant, an on-site diner in an existing storefront on Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington, Mass. for many years. Denise and I visited the diner this morning and had a great breakfast as well as pleasant conversation with Charlie and his wife who seem to be happy running a smaller diner, although he did say he was thinking about taking out the grill and other cooking equipment from behind the counter and doing all the cooking from the spacious kitchen in back. He also mentioned cutting a large pass-thru window in the back-bar wall so the kitchen could be viewed from the diner.

I can understand why he might want to do this as there is very little room behind the counter, especially when he would like to have a large griddle which would in fact stick out even further into the small area behind the counter. I asked him to think twice about this as I have seen diners that used to have the cooking done behind the counter removed to a separate kitchen and with it the general character and ambiance of the diner itself.

Anyway, the food was good and it definitely is worth a stop if you are in the area. It is located at 297 South Broadway (Rte. 28) in Lawrence and opened 7 days a week for breakfast and lunch.

“Diner Guys” Chip Silverman passes away

I just saw a news item from the Baltimore Sun about Howard “Chip” Silverman, one of the original “Diner Guys,” who died Thursday. He was 65. Silverman’s exploits growing up in Forest Park (a section of Baltimore) during the 1950s and 1960s were later immortalized in the 1982 movie, Diner, which was written and directed by his childhood friend Barry Levinson. Mr. Silverman, who later became director of the state Drug Abuse Administration, died of cancer at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. Mr. Silverman had been a Cross Keys resident since 2003.

Mr. Silverman, who also had been a part-time journalist and TV producer, wrote Diner Guys and was co-author, with Dr. Miles Harrison Jr., of Ten Bears. Ten Bears told the story of the fabled Morgan State lacrosse team, coached by Mr. Silverman, that upset Washington and Lee — then the nation’s top-ranked team — 8-7 in 1975.

I never met Mr. Silverman but we did have something in common, we both appeared on a November 1989, segment of CBS’s Sunday Morning (with Charles Kuralt) about the “Diner” phenomonon. Also appearing were Dick Gutman (American Diner Then & Now) and Don Levy of the Deluxe Town Diner of Watertown, Mass.
(at that time he was running the Blue Diner in Boston).

Here is a link to the article about Chip’s death… http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/obituaries/bal-silverobit0307,0,7809346.story

Diners listed in the National Register of Historic Places

There seems to be some confusion, either by diner owners or other interested people about which diners are actually listed in the National Register of Historic Places. I will site three examples of claims in this matter.

1. The last 2 operators of Worcester Lunch Car #690, currently operating as the Lunch Box Diner 0f Malden, Mass. have told me that the owner of the property (as well as the diner) imparted to them that their diner is in the Register. I did some investigating and figured out that it was in fact included in the research for the Multiple Listing Submission survey (along with a select group of the diners in Massachusetts) but up to now it still has not been listed in the Register.

2. I have read for years that Collins’ Diner in Caanan, CT claims to be in the Register. In fact, they are only part of an Historic District that is listed in the Register (not individually listed).

3. I recently saw that Brian O’Rourke of O’Rourke’s Diner has been quoted that his diner is also on the Register. I personally had never heard this and decided to go to the National Register’s website and conduct a search.

This search brought up 37 listings either as individual listings or as part of multiple listings. So I want to clarify at least for now, up to today what diners are listed in the Register. I have not listed them in order of the date of listing but here goes…..

Connecticut
Skee’s Diner
 
589 Main St.  Torrington
Listed Sept. 6, 2002   

Virginia
29 Diner 
10536 Lee Hwy.  Fairfax
Listed- Oct. 29, 1992   
Bill’s Diner 
1 Depot St.  Chatham
Listed Dec. 16, 1996  (Diners of Virginia MPS) 
Burnett’s Diner 
19 S. Main St.  Chatham
Listed Dec. 16, 1996   (Diners of Virginia MPS)
 

Minnesota
Mickey’s Diner
 
36 W. 9th St.  St. Paul
Listed Feb. 24, 1983

Massachusetts
Agawam Diner
166 Newburyport Turnpike  Rowley
Listed Sept. 22, 1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Jack’s Diner (Lanni Tai Diner)
901 Main St.  Woburn
Listed Nov. 22, 2000 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Al Mac’s Diner 
135 President Ave.  Fall River
Listed Dec. 20, 1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
The Rosebud  (Rosebud Diner)
381 Summer St.   Somerville
Listed Sept. 22, 1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Corner Lunch 
133 Lamartine St., Worcester
Listed, Nov. 15, 2000  (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Miss Worcester Diner 
302 Southbridge St.  Worcester
Listed Nov. 21, 2003 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Boulevard Diner
155 Shrewsbury St.  Worcester
Listed Nov. 22, 2000 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Chadwick Square Diner
95 rear Prescott St.  Worcester
Listed Nov. 26, 2003 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Ann’s Diner(Pat’s Diner)
11 Bridge Rd. (US 1)  Salisbury
Listed Dec. 10, 2003 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Miss Toy Town Diner (Blue Moon Diner)
102 Main St.  Gardner
Listed Dec. 4, 2003 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Capitol Diner
431 Union St.  Lynn
Listed Sept. 22, 1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Shawmut Diner
943 Shawmut Ave.  New Bedford
Listed Nov. 28, 2003 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Salem Diner
70 1/2 Loring Ave.  Salem
Listed Sept. 22, 1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
New Bay Diner (Rte. 66 Diner)
950 Bay St.  Springfield
Listed Dec. 4, 2003 (Diners of Mass.MPS)
Al’s Diner
14 Yelle St.  Chicopee
Listed Dec. 14, 2000 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Miss Florence Diner 
99 Main St.  Northampton
Listed Sept. 22, 1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Casey’s Diner
36 South Ave.  Natick
Listed Sept. 22,1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Whit’s Diner (Lloyd’s Diner)
184A Fountain St.  Framingham
Listed Dec. 4, 2003 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Wilson’s Diner
507 Main St.  Waltham
Listed Sept. 22, 1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Town Diner
627 Mount Auburn St.  Watertown
Listed Sept. 22, 1999 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Ted’s Diner  (Now demolished)
67 Main St.  Milford
Listed Nov. 29, 2000 (Diners of Mass. MPS)
Monarch Diner (Four Sisters Owl Diner)
246 Appleton St.  Lowell
Listed Nov. 28, 2003 (Diners of Mass. MPS)

New York
Halfway Diner
(Village Diner)
39 N. Broadway  Red Hook
Listed Jan. 7, 1988
Munson Diner 
Lake St. (NY 55)  Liberty
Listed April 12, 2006
Lil’s Diner (Miss Albany Diner)
893 Broadway  Albany
Listed Nov. 6, 2000

North Carolina
Sam’s Diner
2008 S. Virginia Dare Trail  Kill Devil Hills
Listed Jan. 27, 1999

Ohio
Silk City Diner #4655 (Kim’s Classic Diner)
303 Washington St.  Sabina
Listed Aug. 10, 2005 

Vermont
Miss Bellows Falls Diner
90 Rockingham St.  Bellows Falls
Listed Feb. 15, 1983 

Rhode Island
Modern Diner
364 East Ave.  Pawtucket
Listed Oct. 19, 1978
Poirier’s Diner
1467 Westminster St.  Providence
Listed July 17, 2003

Colorado
Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner
9495 W. Colfax Ave.  Lakewood
Listed July 2, 1997              

Take note that one of the diners, (Ted’s Diner) is actually still in the Multiple Listing Submission for Massachusetts even though it was demolished shortly after being placed on the Register. Also, there was one other diner that made it to the Register years ago, the Clarksville Diner formerly of Decorah, Iowa (by way of Clarksville, NJ). This diner was removed from the Register after it was sold and subsequently moved to France.

2 more Pennsylvania diners to move!

Sunrise Diner may be moving to Vermont

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Back in my early diner travels, I was on my way to Harrisburg, PA. It was November 27, 1981 and I was traveling on Route 209 between I-84 (at the NY-PA state line) and I-81, north of Harrisburg.

I came down a long incline into Jim Thorpe, PA, (the town is located in a valley). As the road came down the hill, it arced right and came to an intersection at the center of town. Rte. 209 made an immediate right and then a left here.

Sitting at the traffic light, waiting to take the right turn I, looked straight down the short street ahead of me and noticed peeking out from behind the building at the corner was a small “arrow” shaped sign with neon stating “Sunrise Diner”. As this little street was a one way coming at me, I followed Rte. 209 right and left and looked to my left and saw the diner.
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I of course stopped and photographed it and probably went inside for a coffee. This was the first of many drives through the town and I know I photographed the diner quite a few times as well over the next few years.

A few months ago (before I started this blog) it was reported that the Sunrise Diner, a 1949 vintage Jerry O’Mahony built diner was closed. The new owners of the property have a different type of restaurant (if I remember correctly) in an adjacent building and wanted the diners lot for expansion and they put the diner up for sale at that time.

It was reported in the Times Argus newspaper out of Vermont on Thursday that Jeff Jacobs of Montpelier Property Management now has plans to purchase the Sunrise Diner and move it to a vacant lot in Vermont’s Capitol City. The report stated there are some problems that Jacobs has to get past before getting the approval to bring the diner to town, but he seems determined to see it through.

Here is the text of the article….

A 1949 diner for Montpelier?
The wheels are in motion, despite major roadblock

By Patrick Timothy Mullikin Business Correspondent

It’s been a bumpy ride so far for Jeff Jacobs and his
efforts to wheel a classic 1949 diner car into
downtown Montpelier.

Bumpy, but still on course.

If all goes right, and it’s a big if at this point,
says Kevin Casey of the Jacobs-owned Montpelier
Property Management, a vintage diner could be up and
running this fall, just a bottle-cap’s throw from
Charlie-O’s.

“We’re trying to bring a piece of Americana and to add
a little character to downtown. Stuff like this just
isn’t done anymore, says Casey. “The nice thing is
that we’re getting a lot of positive feedback from the
community, and that is definitely helpful.”

In addition to community support, Jacobs has several
things going for him:

He picked an ideal location: 66 Main Street, a lot he
owns and that has been vacant since the structure that
was once home to Play It Again Sam burned in May 2003.
“It’s really funny because when I was in Montpelier
last year,” says diner guru Randy Garbin, who
publishes Roadside, an online publication about diners
and diner culture, “I remember walking past that lot
going, ‘This would be a perfect spot for a diner,
never thinking in a million years that one would
actually be there.'”

Jacobs has the unit picked out already: The former
Sunset Diner (sic), a vintage 1949 diner car now
sitting empty in Jim Thorpe, Pa. “It’s in really good
condition, a really a beautiful unit,” says Garbin.
“It’s very colorful and a really nice well-preserved
interior.”

Jacobs has at least four individuals interested in
leasing the diner from him and running it: “We have
people who have the resources and have expressed an
interest in running it,” says Casey.

But Jacobs also has a big problem.

The site, an empty lot framed with concrete blocks and
that last year became a prime gathering spot for
panhandlers, is below the base flood elevation.

Under Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood
Plain Insurance Program, a new building in a flood
plain must be raised above base flood elevation.
Forget that this is a 1949 structure. Once it is
removed from its Pennsylvania site, trucked to
Montpelier and placed on a foundation, it is
considered a new structure.

“The elevation of the site is 526 feet (above sea
level), and it has to be at least 530 feet to be above
the base floor elevation,” says Clancy DeSmet,
Montpelier’s new planning and zoning administrator.
“(The project) can continue, but they just can’t get
flood insurance. He could do it, but he couldn’t get a
tenant to take over a business that wouldn’t have
flood insurance.”

There’s more at risk than tenants, however, as Casey
found out when he met with Environmental Analyst
Rebecca Pfeiffer of the state’s Flood Plain Management
Section.

FEMA is one tough customer. Should Jacobs continue
with his project and not raise the structure by the
necessary four feet, the city could lose its low NFIP
insurance rates. Worse yet, Montpelier could lose
federal disaster assistance funds should Montpelier
flood again.

Jacobs, says Casey, has two options at this point if
he wants to continue with his diner idea: Survey the
spot, at his expense, and hope that it is actually
higher than 526 feet, or elevate the diner by four
feet.

An elevated diner raises aesthetic – and monetary –
concerns.

“When you raise it up four feet, it looks out of
place,” Casey says. Garbin agrees: “They are not meant
to be up that high. When you consider the average
height of a person is about 5-8, your head is going to
be where the bottom of the door is. It’s more common
for a diner to be two to two-and- a-half feet high.”

But in FEMA’s and the city’s eyes, it’s a diner four
feet off the ground or no diner at all.

Casey and Jacobs understand the city’s position. “The
planning department has been great. There’s a lot of
excitement over there about it. They like the idea.
It’s just that everybody’s hands are tied,” says
Casey.

Although an elevated diner with its additional
constriction costs is not what Jacobs had envisioned
when he began the diner project, it has not meant the
end of the project.

“I could envision it could look cool,” says Casey,
“but it’s just whether or not it would be cost
prohibitive.”

What Casey envisions is a handicap-accessible platform
that is the size of the lot — essentially a deck with
outdoor seating during the summer.

DeSmet hopes Jacobs will pursue other design options
and that the diner project will continue through the
city’s design review process.

“They agreed to table the project (rather than shelve
it) and talk to an engineer and architect.
Theoretically, the project can work; it’s very doable.
It would be a shame if they go this far and didn’t try
to come up with some creative solutions.”

DeSmet says the city has offered Jacobs a few of its
own solutions, including creative landscaping and
extending the diner’s stainless steel siding to hide
the elevated foundation wall. “We were just trying to
help Montpelier Property come up with different ways
to look at it so that it could happen,” he says.

Whether it’s a diner, a parking or lot or a building,
Montpelier City Council member Jim Sheridan hopes
something happens to the 66 Main St. parcel.

“I don’t know if I really care what goes there as long
as we can get something to at least clean it up so
that it doesn’t become just blocks that people sit on
and beg for money.”

Sheridan says he has no strong feelings one way or
another about a diner but that it would be bringing
back a little nostalgic past.

Walgreens to displace the Vale-Rio Diner

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The Vale-Rio Diner of Phoenixville, PA was closed late in February. The current owners brothers Richard and Francis Puleo, and John O’Sullivan decided that even though the diner’s business was doing okay, they thought that there was more money to be made by selling the lot where the diner, a beautiful stainless-steel Paramount model had been located for over 60 years, along with the adjacent property so a brand-new Walgreens as well as a Starbucks Coffee house could be built instead.

The diner was to be moved down the street to some land Puleo also owns. He was quoted that he would like to reopen the diner there or somewhere else close by. To paraphrase Randy Garbin of RoadsideOnline, don’t hold your breath waiting for this to happen. Chalk one up for greedy land owners and Walgreens!