Notes from the Hotline, 3/15/2011

Diner 317 closes after a short run


Diner 317, Rte 125 in Plaistow, NH. Nov., 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

 Bob Higgins has been keeping tabs on Diner 317 in Plaistow, NH and has been updating me periodically, he had mentioned to me previously that he thought the diner was struggling for business. I wrote about this diner back in Novemeber, see…… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/notes-from-the-hotline-11212010/ . Well Bob wrote me an email over the weekend to tell me that it is indeed true that the diner is now closed. Here is what Bob said in his email from Saturday…. Was in Plaistow this morning, the diner is vacant and for rent or lease. There is a sign by the road and also in the window for rent and a telephone number. I think it has been gone for maybe a month or so.

I feel badly that the operators, John Woods, his cousin Chris Woods and Justin Behling could not pull this off. I believe there were mitigating circumstances that may have led to the closing such as an on-going road construction project on Rte. 125 near the diner as well as this recession.

Progress at the former site of the Bel-Aire Diner

I have been watching the progress on the redevelopement of the former Bel-Aire Diner site in Peabody, Mass. Things were going fairly slow due to the heavy snowfall we had gotten over January and February. But in recent weeks, things have really started happening. The construction of the new building which is slated to house a few truck-stop related businesses has been moving right along with the raising of the steel framework taking place in just about 3 weeks. Here are some photos from last week showing the diner still on-site and the building rising behind it….


Bel-Aire Diner with new building, photo March 6, 2011 by Larry Cultrera


Bel-Aire Diner with new building, photo March 6, 2011 by Larry Cultrera


Bel-Aire Diner with new building, photo March 6, 2011 by Larry Cultrera


Bel-Aire Diner with new building, photo March 6, 2011 by Larry Cultrera

I have a feeling the diner is not going to get sold right away and it cannot stay where it is for too much longer. John Kallas has said that if no one buys the diner he will have it shrink wrapped and moved to storage behind the new building.

Notes from the Hotline, 11/21/2010

Diner 317 opens in Plaistow, NH


New sign for Diner 317, photo by Larry Cultrera

I got an email from the intrepid Bob Higgins on Thursday. He let me know that Diner 317 opened on Rte. 125 in Plaistow, NH. This was the location of Eggie’s Diner for many years. Eggie’s Diner (the business) moved to a new location in nearby Atkinson, NH earlier this year leaving the early 1950’s Mountain View diner empty. The new partnership of John Woods, his cousin Chris Woods and Justin Behling embarked upon a much needed sprucing up of the building which included completely gutting and then installing a new kitchen. In the diner proper they insisted on  keeping any original details that remained original, installing new lighting and custom made tables with benches!


Sunrise at Diner 317, photo by Larry Cultrera

Denise & I went for breakfast on Saturday morning and I was impressed with the cleanliness as well as the extensive menu. I had a great breakfast and Denise enjoyed the home-made biscuits (almost like dinner rolls) that came from John’s grandmother’s recipe.


Front view of Diner 317 showing the new handicap access ramp leading to the side entrance, photo by Larry Cultrera

Right now, their opening hours are 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday thru Friday. Also they are going to see how 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM hours work for Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well. This of course may change. Diner 317 is located at 127 Plaistow Road (Rte. 125) in Plaistow, NH.

Richard Gutman’s Slide lecture well attended

My brothers Steve and Rick and I attended Dick Gutman’s slide lecture yesterday at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Mass. (my sister-in-law Ann also popped in). It was as usual, well attended! The presentation was the latest in the Museum’s Lowell lecture Series and a coming home of sorts for Mr. Gutman who has assisted the Museum on a slew of different projects many times over the years as well as guest curated along with his wife Kellie two major exhibits there. The first being the landmark “American Diners Then & Now” (1995) and the second “Summer Camp” exhibit (2000).

Dick Gutman’s lecture was called “What Is It about Diners? More Than a Meal, That’s for Sure”, but it could easily have been entitled “Dick Gutman and his Diner Adventures”. It sort of gave a loose account of his personal odyssey researching the history of diners as well as the many memorable characters he has met in his travels!

I was interested to run into 2 people at the lecture that had attended my own slide presentation in Easton this past July. I also met a long-time reader of Diner Hotline – Stefanie Klavens, who had contributed a major article entitled “Art of Movie Theaters” for the Fall, 2003 edition of the SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) Journal Magazine. This magazine of course is where my own Diner Hotline column ran for 19 years. In fact that particular edition of my column featured “The Origin of Diner Hotline”!

Also attending was John Margarita of Gardner, Mass. who I had not seen in probably 15 years. John had made a video on Diners (that I appeared in) that became a thesis for a graduate degree he received from Cambridge College.

The biggest surprise for me came after the lecture when most of the audience had left. A young man came up to me and called me by name and introduced himself, he said Larry? I’m Mike from the Triangle Diner! I was floored! Mike Lessin who is in the process of completely restoring the Triangle Diner of Winchester, VA, had actually flown up to Boston just to attend the lecture!

We talked for a few minutes then I brought him over so he could meet Dick Gutman who was also amazed and delighted that Mike had made this extreme effort to attend.

New Links in my Blog Roll

Matt & Andrea Simmons’ Clash of the Palates blog

My good friend Matt Simmons and his wife Andrea just started an interesting blog that is appearing through Randy Garbin’s “Riding Shotgun” feature at Roadside  Online. Matt co-wrote with me my post entitled “The Story of the The Abandoned Luncheonette, AKA the Rosedale Diner” post (from August 14th). See…… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/the-story-of-the-the-abandoned-luncheonette-aka-the-rosedale-diner/.

Anyway, Matt and Andrea’s new blog is called “Clash of the Palates” and is basically a review of different restaurants that they check out and usually they each have opinions that differ, making for a point/counterpoint type of  review. Check it out at…..http://www.roadsideonline.com/clash-of-the-palates.

The Diner Project by Warren Green

I recently heard from Warren Green who told me he had also attended my recent slide presentation in July. He sent me a link to his new Website called “The Eclectic Light Company”. This website features his photographs but more important here, he has a page called “The Diner Project”. Check it out at….. http://www.eclecticlightcompany.com/Other/Statement-Diner-Project/14372321_wH8XH.

Theatre Historical Society website and readerboard

Karen Colizzi Noonan recently sent some sample copies of the Theatre Historical Society’s “Marquee” Magazine (Karen is the President of this organization). This was brought to my attention by Beth Lennon of Retro Roadmap http://retroroadmap.com/ who had made a mention in her blog about this and told her readers that for a limited time they could also get some free copies of this magazine as an introduction to this organization that has been around since 1969. So I took advantage of the offer.

Karen emailed me and said she had seen Diner Hotline and wanted to put a link to it on her readerboard. I of course said please do, and that I would reciprocate. So here are 2 links, one to the Website and one to the readerboard. check them out at…. http://www.historictheatres.org/
and…. http://theatrehistoricalsociety.wordpress.com/

Capitol Diner exterior improvements complete!

Bob Fennell of the Captiol Diner (Lynn, Mass.) every few years has to get his 1929 Brill diner repainted. This year was the year it needed to be done. The place was scraped down and some imperfections were corrected and the whole building was primed and then painted. This was all done by the end of August. The only thing that did not happen was the lettering on the outside walls were not repainted. He decided to have new vinyl “decal” type lettering made by the same sign company that used to paint the lettering.


Capitol Diner with primer paint, June 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera


Capitol Diner with new paint job and vinyl lettering
Photo November 21, 2010 by Larry Cultrera

A (sort of) Mountain View Diner weekend

Sunday Breakfast at Mountain View Diner No. 428

After I posted last weekend about the Patriot Diner opening in Bourne, Mass.  I had it in the back of my mind to take a short ride down to Cape Cod and check it out in person! So Denise and I went down on Sunday (yesterday) and had breakfast at this 1950’s Mountain View Diner.

As mentioned in a previous post, I first wrote about this diner (formerly the Berlin Diner) which was moved from Berlin, NJ to East Hampton, CT (back when Diner Hotline was in the SCA Journal magazine). I had heard from Steve Gasior who was an SCA member. He was already running a restaurant in Connecticut and thought the diner would be a great addition to his operation.


the former Berlin Diner moving to Connecticut, courtesy Steve Gasior

After the diner was moved to the Nutmeg State, Gasior started to have the diner installed on a foundation and even utilized the services of a so-called restorationist to bring the diner back to a reasonable appearance. You see when the diner was in New Jersey, it had been updated over the years with the facade under the windows being stripped of its stainless steel skin for a different look. The restorationist went as far as having new stainless steel skin made for the diner.

Sometime right after that things went sour and the work was discontinued, the diner project for Gasior was now in limbo. The diner sat there for a while (a couple of years at least) until he was able to unload it.


Otis Rotary Diner, Bourne, Mass. March, 1982 photo by Larry Cultrera


My Tinman Diner, 1996 photo by Larry Cultrera

During this period, The 1941 vintage double-ended Sterling Streamliner operating as “My Tinman Diner” at the Otis Rotary in the Pocasset section of Bourne, Mass. had been burned by an arsonist (circa 2000). That diner was eventually moved off the property and Claire Bergeron (the property owner) was thinking of finding a classic diner to take the place of  the old streamliner. She found out about the former Berlin Diner being available and arranged to purchase it and have it installed on her property in Bourne.

Unfortunately she also utilized the same restorationist that Gasior used and ran into similar problems! So again the diner sat idle until Ms. Bergeron contacted Richard Gutman of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University. He put her together with Steve Spencer the Operations manager at the Museum who completed the installation of the exterior stainless steel skin (as mentioned in the last post) and the diner opened for business in the last 2 weeks. Here are a few of my photos from yesterday…….


Patriot Diner, October 10, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera


Patriot Diner, October 10, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera


Patriot Diner, October 10, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera

We had a decent breakfast at the diner but I was a little concerned as to how they set-up the interior. The original counter was there along with the stools that had back rests (these stools may not be original although they do look good). What bothered me about the set-up was that there were no booths in the diner, just table and chairs which would have been ok if they were set up by the windows against the wall, but they were not. They were moved away from the wall and set at angles with the 4 related chairs on all sides. This might work in a large room but within the fairly narrow confines of a 1950’s diner, forget about it! There was hardly any room to walk between the tables and the counter stools!

Also, they installed built-in wooden benches against the side walls that have access to tables along the side. A 1950’s diner would have had upholstered benches and these wooden ones looked out of place and did not look comfortable. I would suggest they revisit their configuration by doing something different with the side benches and placing tables for 4 against the front walls with 2 chairs on each side.

OK, that’s enough of my bitching (of which I do very little here) and onto the next Mountain View Diner I visited this weekend!

Mountain View Diner No. 317 gets new operators


Eggie’s Diner, Route 125 in Plaistow, NH, photo by Larry Cultrera

Recently I mentioned that the people who ran Eggie’s Diner on Rte. 125 in Plaistow, NH had moved their business from the 1950’s Mountain View Diner they had occupied for many years to new digs in Atkinson, NH. This left the future of the old diner building in question. Well that question was answered within the last few days by an article from the Lawrence Eagle- Tribune (Lawrence, Mass.). This article mentioned the new people who would be operating the diner now called Diner 317.

Originally known as Pent’s Diner on Route 28 in North Reading, Mass. in 1952, it was moved to Plaistow by owners Jim & Hope Pentalerios in 1961 when I-93 opened and took a lot of north and southbound traffic from the old road.

When I first photographed the diner in Plaistow in the early 1980’s, it was being run as the Plaistownian Diner. Its exterior had been altered sometime in the mid-to-late 1970’s with all the stainless steel exterior skin being removed and covered with some type of siding (either wooden or vinyl). All the other stainless steel (trim & panels) by the windows were painted over.

I recall the diner looking all original circa 1971-72 but after that I guess I did not pay attention. Luckily, Richard Gutman at least had photographed it in his early days in Boston and had some decent shots of it as Hope’s Diner from back then.
Here is the article from the Eagle-Tribune that was brought to my attention by Glenn Wells of www.roadsidefans.com……..

 http://www.eagletribune.com/newhampshire/x1274851766/Plaistow-gets-a-new-diner

By Cara Hogan
 chogan@eagletribune.com The Eagle Tribune
Sun Oct 10, 2010, 12:03 AM EDT

Plaistow gets a new diner

The former site of Eggies diner in Plaistow has a new name and new owners, who hope to revitalize the local landmark. Eggies has moved to a new location in Atkinson.

John Woods, originally from Rye, has renamed it Diner 317, taking the number from an old metal plaque on the wall of the classic diner. Woods is a chef and just moved back to New Hampshire from Boulder, Colorado.
“I had a restaurant in Colorado, but I sold it to come back here,” Woods said.

He said his two good friends from Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston, Justin Behling and cousin Chris Woods, asked him if he wanted to go into business together. “They were looking into building a restaurant, and I had been in the business for 20 years,” Woods said. “We’ve known each other forever and we all trust each other. Chris is running construction, Justin and myself are operating the restaurant.”

Cook has already written the menu. Prices will range from free for kids under age 10 to $12.50 for all-you-can-eat. “We’re going to continue to do diner food and comfort food, serving breakfast all day,” Woods said.

The menu includes dishes like Backwoods Benedict: turkey, bacon, two poached eggs with chip sausage gravy over buttermilk biscuits, and the Breakfast Bomb Burrito: two scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, hash browns and choice of ham, bacon or sausage wrapped in a large flour tortilla smothered with green chili. The menu also will feature a regular assortment of french toast, waffles, pancakes, burgers and sandwiches.

Woods and his partners are leasing the diner from the owners, but are doing significant construction to improve the building and parking lot. “We are redoing a lot,” Woods said. “We’re doing mainly cosmetic changes in the front, keeping it as original as possible. We’re going to fix the parking lot also, pave over the potholes and get everything up to code.”

He said he hopes construction will be completed in the next few weeks. Plans call for opening the diner Nov. 1. The diner will open at 5:30 a.m. every day. Woods said he is proud of the diner’s long history, including the story at the bottom of the new menus.

“This diner was built in 1951 in New Jersey by the Mountain View Diner Company,” Woods said. “It moved from Jersey to North Reading and was there until 1961. Then it was brought up here.” The Pentalerios family owned the diner, calling it Pents, then Hope’s Diner, before leasing it Eggies. “We’re only the third people to (run) it since 1951,” Woods said. “It’s virtually a landmark.”

The new diner will be a green operation. “We’ll be recycling, composting and selling our fry oil for biofuel,” he said. “We’re also thinking about doing farm to table in the spring, maybe planting a box garden in the field out back. We have so much space. It feels good to be respecting the environment and cooking fresh, delicious foods. It’s a win-win.”

Woods said he hopes people will try the food and support a local family business. “My cousins and other family are volunteering, doing construction for free,” he said. “Everyone working here is family.”

After reading this article I decided because I had today off (Columbus Day) I would take another quick ride to Plaistow where I met both John Woods and Justin Behling. They really do have an appreciation of the diner and have pledged to keep as much of it as they can original. They have stripped the paint from all the stainless steel surfaces that remain on the exterior and are busy completely rebuilding the on-site kitchen.

John told me something I was not aware of, namely that the Pentalerios family still owns the diner! This was a total surprise! I wished them luck and hope to be at the diner again shortly after it reopens (next month I believe).

Here are some photos from this morning…..


John Woods (L) and a contractor (R) in front of Diner 317
October 11, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera


Diner 317, October 11, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior of Diner 317, October 11, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior of Diner 317, October 11, 2010 photo by Larry Cultrera