Central Diner moved from long-time home in Millbury, Massachusetts

I got word the other day from my friend Barry Henley (My Brother’s Place, Webster, Mass.) that the Central Diner was moved from its only operating location in Millbury, Massachusetts this week. The diner is a 1930 vintage Worcester Lunch Car (No. 763) which was built to replace a 1910 vintage Worcester Lunch Car on the same location for the Gillert family. They operated the 1930 diner into the 1980s before retiring and selling the property and business. There were a few operators after the Gillerts and the property that the diner sat on at some point ended up being owned by Millbury National Bank which actually blocked the diner’s inclusion to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places back around the year 2000. It was one of two diners on the multiple property submission by the Massachusetts Historical Commission to refuse the listing, the Edgemere Diner in Shrewsbury was the other one.

Central Diner in Millbury, Mass. Photo by Larry Cultrera

The Central Diner closed earlier this year after being owned and 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 and Brigid Gore who were very friendly and personable. I wrote about the diner closing here… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/central-diner-closes-future-in-doubt/. There was recent talk that the diner was in danger of being destroyed unless someone came forward to buy and move it from the property. I know there have been possible interested buyers, but none who wanted to make the commitment. So when Barry contacted me thru Facebook, he sent along a link to a news piece about the diner being purchased and moved by Dave Pritchard of Salisbury, Mass. Dave owns Aran Trading, LTD., a company that deals in leasing and selling trucks, trailers and storage systems. Aran Trading is located just behind the former Chubby’s Diner right (Pritchard owns that one also) off I-95 at the Mass./New Hampshire line. Dave has become a sort of diner savior in the last 15 years and at various times has had the Englewood Diner, Fasano’s/Olympian Diner, the Monarch Diner and Miss Newport Diner stored at his yard. He sold the Miss Newport to Auto Dealer Kevin Meehan (Imperial Cars in the little town of Mendon, Mass.) who relocated and set the diner up as the Miss Mendon Diner. The Englewood was sold to New Balance Shoes who moved the diner adjacent to their corporate headquarters in Brighton, Mass. and restored it, using it for corporate functions as the Red Line Diner. The former Monarch Diner of Dover, NH and North Berwick, Maine was sold more recently to Roger Elkus who reopened the diner earlier this year at a new location in Portsmouth as Roger’s Redliner Diner. The last diner on the premises to my knowledge was Fasano’s/Olympian, a 1963 vintage Fodero colonial model that operated in South Braintree, Mass. until the late 1990s.

Fasano’s/Olympian Diner and the former Monarch Diner at Aran Trading, LTD.
Photo by Larry Cultrera

The Miss Newport Diner and Englewood Diner at Aran Trading, LTD.
Photo by Larry Cultrera

I took a quick ride up to Salisbury on the morning of August 1st to get some photos and hopefully meet Dave Pritchard (finally, after all these years). I was lucky to find him at the office as he is a busy guy and is not always there! I had a pleasant time chatting with him talking about “diners”. He mentioned something that surprised me but not totally, not only did he have the Central Diner and Fasanao’s/Olympian Diner in the yard, but he also was storing Worcester Lunch Car No. 666, formerly half of the Midway Diner (Shrewsbury). Doug Johnson had this diner for years in his yard in Andover prior to selling the property recently. Doug sent this message after seeing this post… Hi Larry, Actually the Worcester #666 Diner is being stored at Dave Pritchard’s place (in Salisbury) and is for sale $10K. If anyone is interested, please contact me at doug@sunami.com Thanks.

The Central Diner at Aran Trading, LTD.

The Central Diner at Aran Trading, LTD.

Dave Pritchard posing with the Central Diner at Aran Trading, LTD.

Worcester Lunch Car No. 666, part of the former Midway Diner last operated
on U.S. Rte. 20 in Shrewsbury, Mass. at Aran Trading, LTD

Worcester Lunch Car No. 666, part of the former Midway Diner last operated
on U.S. Rte. 20 in Shrewsbury, Mass. at Aran Trading, LTD

Midway Diner, U.S. Rte. 20 Shrewsbury, Mass.Number 636 is the diner on the
left, 4 windows on either side of that door on the left hand side. No. 666 is the diner
closest to me (the photographer) with 3 windows on either side of the door on the right hand
side. Early 1980s photo by Larry Cultrera

I mentioned to Dave Pritchard that I noticed he also had the property a couple of blocks east on Main Street from Aran Trading that has the disguised former Dudley’s Diner on it. He confirmed that it was true and the diner was still inside the building. Below is a screen shot from Google Street View showing the building as it is today. Most people would never know there was a very rare early Sterling Diner buried within this building.

former Dudley's street view
Google Street View of the former Dudley’s Diner just down Main Street from
Aran Trading, LTD. Dave Pritchard owns this property as well.

The following to photos were from the early 1980s showing the diner before it got covered up.

Dudley’s Diner the way it looked in June of 1982. Photo by Larry Cultrera

Dudley’s Diner the way it looked in June of 1982. Photo by Larry Cultrera

The photo below is an exterior view of the same diner when it was brand-new at it’s original location in Ipswich. The diner was moved after a short time and ended up in Salem, Mass., then Claremont, NH before coming to Salisbury Where it was operated by Jimmy Evans who later went on to owning and operating Ann’s Diner also in Salisbury.

Exterior view of the Strand Diner at it’s original location in Ipswich, Mass.
This became Dudley’s Diner many years later.

Interior view of the Strand Diner at it’s original location in Ipswich, Mass.
This became Dudley’s Diner many years later.

On another note, the diner I have referred to as Fasano’s/Olympian was bought brand-new by the Fasano Family and operated from 1963 until June of  1998 in South Braintree, Mass. The Fasano’s sold the diner in 1976 and by 1981 Paul Margetis became the owner who operated it as the Olympian Diner until 1998 when he was forced off the property for a new Osco Drug store. Margetis wanted to move the diner to another location nearby but that idea was eventually shot down by the town of Braintree. Ironically Ralph Fasano, the grandson of the original owner stepped in and bought the diner and moved it into storage with the hopes of finding a new location for it. That too never worked out and Dave Pritchard bought the diner. Dave informed me that he has in fact recently sold the diner and it will be moved to Leominster, Mass. in the near future although it is not clear if the new owner will put it into service.

Sneak preview of Miss Mendon Diner

Miss Mendon Diner, exterior photo Jan. 17, 2010 by Larry Cultrera

The newly refurbished Miss Mendon Diner located on Route 16 in the midst of the sprawling Imperial Cars multi-dealership complex in Mendon, Mass. will have its Grand Opening this coming Wednesday (January 20th). The Miss Mendon Diner, a 1950 vintage, bright red Worcester Lunch Car (Car #823) had spent all of its operating life way up by the Canadian border in Newport, Vermont as the Miss Newport Diner. It closed in Vermont a number of years ago and was subsequently sold to Dave Pritchard of Salisbury, Mass. who had it transported to his storage yard where it sat for a few more years.

Antique Neon sign that was bought on Ebay. Kevin Meehan had it refurbished with a new paint-job, lettering and neon.

Pritchard sold the diner around 2 years ago to Kevin Meehan, the owner of Imperial Cars who brought it out to Mendon, a few miles west of Milford, Mass. Meehan spent a considerable amount of money to set the diner up on a new foundation with a good size kitchen/restroom building that also has room for 4 more booths with a handicap-accessable entryway.

Meehan did this place up right, he replaced the original porcelain panels that said “Newport” with newly painted panels that said “Mendon”. The paint job was so good it really fooled me, I thought it was porcelain when I visited the site in September. The interior of the diner got a sprucing-up as well with a newly installed replacement ceramic tile floor, which though different from the original small blue ceramic tile, compliments the natural woodwork that Worcester Lunch Car Company was famous for.

Miss Mendon Diner, interior photo Jan. 17, 2010 by Larry Cultrera

Miss Mendon Diner, interior photo Jan. 17, 2010 by Larry Cultrera

The addition that houses the 4 new booths also has the same tile floor but more importantly also has woodwork and booths that replicate what Worcester would have done perfectly! The whole place also features art deco light fixtures that seem to go well, even though it is not what Worcester would have used. The original stools have been stripped and re-chromed making them appear brand-new.

Miss Mendon Diner, interior photo showing dining addition with
replicated woodwork and booths, Jan. 17, 2010 by Larry Cultrera

Miss Mendon Diner, interior photo showing dining addition with
replicated woodwork and booths, Jan. 17, 2010 by Larry Cultrera

As I mentioned above, the diner will be open to the public this coming Wednesday and Doug “V.B.” Goudie of Boston’s Fox 25 Morning News will be there live with his “Diner Wednesdays” segment along with WTKK, 96.9 FM Talk’s Michael Graham. They expect to be fairly busy all day and ask that customers who show-up be patient.

To help the staff prepare for the onslaught of customers, General Manager Michael O’Donovan along with owner Kevin Meehan have held “mock-openings” for the last few days and we were lucky enough to get an invite for today! Denise & I drove out to Acton and picked up my travelling buddy, Steve Repucci and got out to Mendon. There were a handfull of invited customers on hand and I must say, a very friendly and capable staff!

I also met Bill Gladwin of Mendon. Bill and his wife were invited guests as well (I kept on looking at him and thought, boy he could be Mike Engle’s twin brother). Bill’s  website…… 
 http://anystandard.net/features/missmendon.html features a page about the Miss Mendon has some of the first photos I saw of the diner back in August which prompted me to make the trip out on Labor Day to see the progress with my own eyes.

So to get back to the Miss Mendon, as I said the staff was very attentive and friendly. The food was great! They brought out some freshly made raspberry danish as well as maple pecan danish, which was extremely light and flaky! Steve had their Smoked Salmon Hash with Poached Eggs, Toast and Homefries while Denise had a fresh, hot biscuit with butter (she eats light) and I had my usual 2 Eggs over hard with Sausage, Toast and Homefries. We were all satisfied with the quality of the food and the service. I highly recommend that anyone out in the area will not be disappointed!

Miss Mendon Diner, exterior photo Jan. 17, 2010 by Larry Cultrera

I was pleased to meet both Michael O’Donovan and Kevin Meehan this morning and I complimented them on their efforts to resurrect this beautiful diner. Kevin, in my opinion certainly chose a very capable and talented individual (in Michael) to be his General Manager! Michael’s attention to detail in helping to set the diner up, both physically and in the hiring of staff, not to mention his creation of the wonderful website at….
http://www.missmendondiner.com/  is a credit to Meehan’s search for the right personnel to man the operation!

The Miss Mendon Diner’s address is 16 Uxbridge Road (Rte. 16), Mendon, MA o1756. Telephone is 508-634-3000. Operating hours are Sunday thru Thursday 6 AM to 11 PM, Friday and Saturday 6 AM to 2 AM. Check out the website for all menu and other info.

Miss Mendon Diner announces upcoming Grand Opening!

Photo courtesy of Michael O’Donovan and the Miss Mendon Diner

Back on this past Labor Day weekend, I posted about driving out to see the progress of the Miss Mendon Diner, located on Route 16 in Mendon, Massachusetts. See here for that post…
https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2009/09/07/2009-labor-day-weekend-diner-updates/. In that post I mentioned about the history of this diner which was formerly the Miss Newport Diner of Newport, VT, (the diner’s only operating location since it was brand-new in 1950).

It had been reportedly sold to Kevin Meehan, the owner of Imperial Cars, a multi-brand auto dealership in Mendon within the last 2 years after spending a number of years in storage at a location in Salisbury, Mass. After visiting and shooting some great photos of it, I ended up talking with Kevin on the phone shortly after and he told me he hoped to open the diner by November. Well, as we have seen in the past good things take time.

About a month and a half later I got a call from Michael O’Donovan who had just been hired by Kevin Meehan to be the general manager of the Miss Mendon. We have been in contact  since and I have been kept informed of the progress. In fact there are some photos of mine on their website…
http://www.missmendondiner.com/ , check them out under photos/history. Michael also has started a Facebook fan page for the diner and been trying to keep people informed that way with their effort to open the diner.

It was finally announced within the last 24 hours that the diner will have its Grand Opening on Wednesday, January 20th at 6:00 AM!

Photo courtesy of Michael O’Donovan and the Miss Mendon Diner