University reopens the Salem Diner

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The Salem Diner, July 29, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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!

Notes from the Hotline, 3/6/2010

Photos by Kristen Nyberg to be on Display March 18, 2010

I have known of Kristen Nyberg (and been a fan of hers) for around two and a half to three years (since I’ve been on Flickr). Kristen is a very talented photographer currently residing in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She is also co-creator with Jill Rose of the very popular North Shore Dish, a blog devoted to providing a Web resource for restaurant and food information north of Boston, see….  http://www.northshoredish.com/.

When I first started checking out Flickr, Kristen’s photos immediately caught my attention. First of all she was shooting a lot of “roadside” stuff (local to the Boston area), but with a great eye for detail! You can view her Flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristenlou/ to get an idea. Her subjects are not only limited to roadside and neon signs but include a whole range of subjects.

I asked Kristen in an email if the show was going to be a slide presentation and she replied… it’s a “gallery” type show, of mounted and framed photos. (Which also happen to be for sale, of course…) She went on to explain, while it’s not entirely diner themed (some arty farty shots, too) (love that term Kristen), there are lots of neon / diner shots that your readers might be interested in.

Kristen’s photo show Entitled…. Signs & Wonders will be on display one night only, Thursday, March 18th, 7 – 9 pm at Victoria Station Restaurant, located at Pickering Wharf in Salem, Mass. (victoriastationsalem.com)

Lebanon, NH’s White Owl Diner revisited

I recently heard from Josiah (Si) Lupton of Hartland, VT. I’ve known Si for over 20 years. He is an interesting person with many varied interests such as antiques, classic diners and classic cars. He sent me some photos of a small collection of memorabilia he has put together of the former White Owl Diner which operated in downtown Lebanon, NH. This was an April, 1932 vintage Worcester Lunch Car (#695).

I recall reading a little bit about this diner in Will Anderson’s book “Lost Diners and Roadside Restaurants of New England and New York” (page 125). In the caption under the photo he ran, Will says…. The White Owl was a fixture at 56-58 Hanover Street in Hough (pronounced “Huff”) Square for the better part of five decades. Opened as the Pollard Lunch in the 1920’s, it went through several ownership and name changes before becoming the White Owl with Charles C. White as proprietor, in the early 1930’s.

(As this diner is a 1932 vintage according to the Worcester Lunch Car Company workbooks and was named the White Owl at the factory, Will’s info overlooked the fact that there was an earlier diner on this site. Also, according to the Worcester workbooks the proprietor was Harry C. White – LAC).

Will went on to say… The White Owl it remained, surviving a major fire in downtown Lebanon in 1964, before being demolished to make way for a new bridge approach to Route 120 in 1970.

One of the photos that Si Lupton sent was a fantastic shot of the aforementioned 1964 fire in downtown Lebanon, check this out…

Si sent along an old city directory ad for the diner and it looks like it was being run by someone other than Mister White at this point…

Here are a couple of shots of a unique cup and saucer. You will notice the cup has 2 handles, I don’t know what that is all about. Maybe for a two-fisted coffee drinker?

Thanks to Si Lupton for sharing these images that helps us take a walk down memory lane!