Boyle’s Elm Tree Diner, winter 1986

Boyle’s Elm Tree Diner, February 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

When I was looking for slides of the Park Street Diner last week, I came across some slides of Boyle’s Elm Tree Diner of Salem, Mass. I had not seen these images for some time and I decided to scan 2 of them because they were time exposures that I thought came out decently!

This diner was originally named the Pilgrim Diner and is Worcester Lunch Car No. 725. It was taken over by Don Boyle in the 1970’s I believe, and he renamed it the Elm Tree in honor of a diner his uncle formerly operated in nearby Lynn, Mass. for many years.

Boyle painted over the porcelain panels that had the word “Pilgrim” as you can see in the photos, replicating the “old english” font for the Elm Tree part and a script font for Boyle’s. The big difference was there were more words and the name had to be squeezed in to fit the space.

Boyle’s Elm Tree Diner, February 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

The diner was almost completely original at this point in time other than the windows. I am not sure when this happened (I’m guessing 1960’s) but there had previously been jalousie windows installed to replace the double hung windows. These later windows had recently been replaced by full pane glass when I took these shots. The diner has since gone thru more changes with the removal of the orignal wooden booths and an auxiliary building was added to the back for more kitchen space. The back bar has been completely altered and the monel metal hood has been chopped back ( a real shame). The only decent thing that has happened is the original porcelain was “unpainted” so now it says “Pilgrim ” again.

I went and shot some new photos today (Sunday March 6) to show what the diner looks like today……

Pilgrim Diner, March 6, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Pilgrim Diner, March 6, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Bel Aire Diner to become Red’s Kitchen & Tavern

I got an email yesterday from Robert DeCristoforo, a friend and former coworker of mine. The email had a link to an article from the July 7th Salem News, (Salem, Mass.) about the upcoming plans for the Bel Aire Diner located on U.S. Rte. 1 in Peabody, Mass. This article confirmed info that I already knew and posted about back in April, see….

 The Bel Aire Diner is a large Mountain View Diner from the early 1950’s that has been closed for a number of years. It is just up the northbound side of U.S. Rte. 1 from the Sonic Drive-In that was opened almost a year ago.


Here is the Salem News article….

July 7, 2010

Red’s plans to open Route 1 restaurant, too

By Matthew K. Roy
Staff writer

PEABODY — Red’s Sandwich Shop, a culinary institution in downtown Salem since 1945, could be coming to Route 1 in Peabody.

Owner John Drivas has plans to open a second Red’s at the site of the long-shuttered Bel-Aire Diner on Route 1 north. It will be called Red’s Kitchen and Tavern.

“For our type of operation,” Drivas said, “it’s a perfect location.”

Red’s made a name for itself in Salem by offering an affordable variety of traditional breakfast and lunch menu options. Pending the approval of the city, the Peabody version of the restaurant could open by late fall or early next year in a new commercial building that will house multiple tenants. Ground could be broken on the project as early as next week, said David Ankeles, lawyer of property owner John Kallas.

“We’ve been looking (to expand) for some time,” Drivas said.

The third owner in its history, Drivas has run Red’s for 23 years. The Peabody location will reflect the menu and concept of the original restaurant.

Though still in the planning stages, the new restaurant is projected to be 5,000 square feet with seating for 175. It will offer breakfast, lunch and, unlike the original Red’s, dinner. The proposed operating hours are 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., according to a special permit application filed with the City Council.

“Red’s has got a good reputation, I’m sure they’ll have a positive impact in that area,” City Councilor Dave Gamache said.

Gamache represents the ward where Red’s is slated to locate.

“As soon as we can get that corner developed, the better off we’ll be,” he said.

Red’s needs the council to grant it a special permit because it intends to sell alcohol. Drivas is seeking a full liquor license. In Salem, he operates with a beer and wine license.

“It has every type of restaurant you can think of, but I don’t feel that Route 1 has a Red’s,” Drivas said. “It will be a great addition to the city of Peabody and the Route 1 area.”

The site will have 130 parking spaces and provide day and overnight parking for tractor-trailers. Among the businesses in the nearly 21,000-square-foot building will be a convenience store and motorcycle shop, Ankeles said.

But Red’s will be the primary draw.

“I hope (Drivas) gets a chance to do a bang-up job up there,” Ankeles said. “He’s a good guy, and he has a great reputation.”

Regular customers of the original Red’s need not worry. Nothing will change there, Drivas said.

The Central Street hot spot is popular among locals and visitors to Salem and has served its share of luminaries, particularly from the world of politics.

The late Sen. Ted Kennedy dined there, so has Sen. John Kerry, former Gov. Mitt Romney and first lady Barbara Bush.

Red’s would become part of a restaurant revival on Route 1 in Peabody. A new Sonic restaurant has thrived since opening last summer.

Santarpio’s, a famous, family-run East Boston pizzeria, is transforming the former Bennigan’s restaurant on Route 1 north into its 300-seat North Shore home. The Peabody venture will be the pizzeria’s second location, after 107 years in business.

The Bel-Aire Diner went out of business in 2006.

Because of its summer recess, the council will not take up Red’s special permit application until late August.

I personally do not like that Red’s owners are planning not to use “Diner” in the name of the new restaurant. Instead of “Red’s Kitchen & Tavern” they could  name it “Red’s Kitchen & Tavern at the Bel Aire Diner”, or how about “Red’s Bel Aire Diner”, just thinking! – LAC

Thanks for the link Robert!