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.

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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.

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

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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.

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The Central Diner at Aran Trading, LTD.

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The Central Diner at Aran Trading, LTD.

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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

Notes from the Hotline, 10-2-2010

Saturday Breakfast at the newly opened
Dinky’s Blue Belle Diner


Dinky’s Blue Belle Diner, Shrewsbury, Mass. – Photo by Larry Cultrera

As promised in the last post, Denise & I took a ride out to Shrewsbury to check out the Blue Belle Diner which has finally reopened at a new location after it was uprooted from its old long-time operating location on Prescott Street in Worcester 12 years ago. The Blue Belle is a 1948 vintage Worcester Lunch Car (No. 814) and was originally located on Chandler Street in Worcester prior to moving to the Prescott Street site.


Dinky’s Blue Belle Diner, Shrewsbury, Mass. – Photo by Larry Cultrera

We had a great breakfast and were served by pleasant waitresses. I missed getting to see owner Bruce Trotto probably by just a few minutes but left my card to let him know I was there. The Blue Belle which was added on to Trotto’s Dinky’s Diner (an on-site building) looks fantastic, especially on the exterior! I was even surprised to see the diner had all its original exterior light fixtures which have not survived on other Worcesters of this vintage. The diner, along with a large kitchen, entryway/diningroom was grafted onto the existing building. I am told the old Dinky’s section which is currently closed is going to be made into a bar by the end of the year.


Dinky’s Blue Belle Diner, Shrewsbury, Mass. – Photo by Larry Cultrera

I recall visiting the Blue Belle Diner back in the 1980’s and at that time I wondered why the interior seemed different (from other Worcesters of the same period). I have figured out that sometime along the way between when it was first built and when I first saw it, there had been a fire. As I noticed in my 1980’s visit, the hood was missing over the cooking area which to my eyes made it look sort of empty, devoid of some character.  It also now has a wooden ceiling which replaced its original Pearlescent Formica ceiling after it was damaged (I assume) by the fire.

In fact upon today’s inspection while sitting at the counter, I gave it a good looking over and the whole back-bar area (behind the counter) is not original. From left to right every piece of original equipment and cabinetry is gone. In its place are some commercial stainless steel cabinets, tables, pastry cases and griddle area. The griddle area is just used for display as all cooking is done out back in the new large kitchen.

On the bright side everything on the other side of the counter is pretty original from the marble counter-top and ceramic tile counter apron and walls to the stools and booths although it does have new ceiling lights as well as smaller light fixtures between the windows by the booths.

Overall, I highly recommend that if you are in the Shrewsbury area check out Dinky’s Blue Belle Diner located at 70 Clinton Street (Rte. 70) about a mile or so from the Worcester town line. Its phone is 508-981-8007. Say hi to Bruce if he is there, tell him Diner Hotline sent you!

The new entryway/waiting area at the Four Sister’s
Owl Diner is pretty much complete

Regular readers of Diner Hotline should recall that I was involved in a collaboration with Richard Gutman in the creation of a large entryway/waiting area that was built on to the front of the existing Worcester Semi-streamlined diner known as the Four Sister’s Owl Diner in Lowell, Mass. Because a major portion of the front wall of the diner was going to be covered by this new entryway, it was decided to make all new porcelain steel panels with baked in graphics similar to the old panels for the whole front wall (including the entryway).


The panel that has the “R” took the place of the original “Booth Service”
panel on the right side of the front wall.

My part was to translate Dick Gutman’s hand drawn mechanical drawings to vectorized computer files that the Cherokee Porcelain Enamel Company requested. Using the images that Dick sent me as templates I recreated then in Adobe Illustrator. One of the panels I did not have from Dick was the “Booth Service” panel which I photographed to be used as a template.


New panels showing the rest of the graphics.

The panels with graphics included the “Booth Service” panel on the front left corner of the diner and the panels that “The Owl” in old english font on the front of the entryway and the new “Diner” panels in an italicized font on the right side of the diner. These included stripes at the top as well as the small arrow stripes at the bottom of the 2 end panels. Because the entryway went past the front door of the diner, the panels with the word “Diner” had to move to the right . This meant sacrificing the “Booth Service” panel on the right end.


Diner from the left side showing the new entryway.

Anyway, the exterior was mostly done earlier this year but the interior of the entryway took a little longer. But the wait was worth it as the custom tile work on the floor and walls successfully replicated what the Worcester Lunch Car Company’s tile people (Bianchi Brothers I believe) did in 1940.


Interior of entryway showing a fantastic custom tile job on the floor and walls replicating the interior tilework of the diner.

Patriot Diner opens in Bourne, Mass.


Patriot Diner with newly installed replacement stainless steel skin
Photo courtesy of Richard Gutman and Steve Spencer of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University

10 years ago a devastating arson fire destroyed the My Tin Man Diner, an extremely rare double-ended Sterling Streamliner diner built by J.B. Judkins Company of Merrimac, Mass. This diner originally operated as Jimmie Evan’s Flyer on U.S. Route 6 in New Bedford, Mass. for many years until it was moved to the Pocasset section of Bourne near the Otis Air Force Base.

The diner was run under quite a few names over the years including The Otis Rotary Diner and Mary’s Muffins prior to Claire Bergeron’s purchase of the property circa 1985. In 1990 she leased the diner to Barbara Lind who changed the name to My Tin Man Diner. It was the estranged husband of one of Barbara’s employees who set the arson fire that burned the old diner.

The burned remains of the old Sterling Streamliner diner was moved off the property a number of years ago and currently sits in storage at the Handy Hill Creamery Ice Cream stand in Westport, Mass. Since then Claire Bergeron ended up purchasing the former Berlin Diner (Berlin, NJ) from Steve Gasior who had moved the 1950’s Mountain View Diner (No. 428) from New Jersey to East Hampton, CT where he had hoped to put it back in business.

Gasior’s plans had fallen thru due to various reasons and the diner was never put into service in the Nutmeg State, thus the purchase by Ms. Bergeron a few years later. Ms. Bergeron subsequently got the diner moved to the former site of the My Tin Man Diner and installed it on a new foundation where its restoration stalled.

Eventually she contacted Richard Gutman at the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University about her dilemma in finishing the diners exterior restoration. He put her in touch with Steve Spencer, the Museum Operations manager who contracted to install the new replacement stainless steel skin on the diner with the assistance of his son earlier this year.

I had heard from a few people recently that the diner now being called the Patriot Diner was preparing to open and in fact there came reports a couple of days ago about the diner was in fact now open for business. Here is an article from Cape Cod Online about the diner….

http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101002/NEWS/10020316

New Bourne diner opens a decade after arson fire

By Heather Wysocki
hwysocki@capecodonline.com
October 02, 2010
The Cape’s longest wait for a short stack of pancakes is finally over. Nearly 10 years after a devastating arson fire destroyed the diner that had sat just off the Otis Rotary in Bourne for nearly a half century, the property’s owner has opened a new eatery on the same spot.
Now called the Patriot Diner, the stainless-steel throwback opened its doors Monday to serve up old-fashioned food and helpings of nostalgia for patrons who remember coming to the spot for years dating back to the mid-20th century.

“It was a landmark to people,” said Claire Bergeron of Wareham, who has owned the property since 1985. “It had served different generations. I felt responsible for bringing it back.”

In November 2000, the diner, then called My Tin Man Diner and run by Barbara Lind, was destroyed in a fire set by the estranged husband of a restaurant employee. “There was nothing left. I walked into where the kitchen was and I could look up at the sky,” Bergeron said.

A series of misfortunes, including having an unreliable restoration expert and insurance woes, made the wait for a new diner drag for years, she said. Diner patrons got another chance at pancake-and-patty-melt bliss in 2008, when Lind and her daughter, Susan Kettell Lind, opened the new incarnation of My Tin Man Diner at 70 County Road in North Falmouth.

But it wasn’t until Bergeron met longtime Cape restaurateur Don Cox that she could fulfill her promise to bring back a diner at the Otis Rotary. “This was a long journey,” said Cox, who operates the new Patriot Diner. “I just helped her get across the finish line.” Cox opened the diner last week with little fanfare and abbreviated hours, he said, but the community is already showing enthusiasm.

“It’s so nice to have it back here,” said customer Carol Goss of Bourne, who ate breakfast at the diner Wednesday morning. Goss said she had frequented the restaurant when it was My Tin Man Diner. Others remember the place just as fondly. “It was always a hot spot,” said Anita Landers of Pocasset, a waitress at the diner whose mother and two sisters worked at the eatery decades ago. “You can hear a hundred stories a day about the history of this place,” Cox said.

This time around, the diner’s theme pays tribute to the military men and women from the nearby Massachusetts Military Reservation. Many armed service members have already become some of the restaurant’s most loyal customers, Cox said. “We were kind of inspired by the people that we’ve met … and the sacrifices they and their families make,” he said.

The tiny hallway leading to the new diner’s bathrooms is decorated with beach and dune scenes, but it also features a sign listing the distances to Middle Eastern and South Asian cities where Cape soldiers are currently stationed. A Blackhawk helicopter model with a Red Sox logo on its nose, painted to resemble those from Camp Edwards flying in Afghanistan and Iraq, hovers over the sand, and the restaurant’s handicapped-accessible bathroom has hand-painted images of Coast Guard boats and helicopters.

A few things will stay the same as they always were at the old diner: Cox’s menu includes old-fashioned comfort food favorites, and Bergeron made sure to replicate her original restaurant’s look by purchasing a defunct circa-1955 diner car from a small town in Connecticut. And, in a nod to the diner culture of earlier years, when area teens would grab a bite to eat after a night on the town, Cox plans to extend the diner’s hours to 24 hours a day on Fridays and Saturdays, he said.

Bergeron feels the new diner will be just as special to Bourne residents as its predecessor. “So many people were asking when it was going to reopen, I just felt it was my obligation,” she said. “I’m 65, I’ve never broken a promise in my life, and I’m too old to start now.”

Here is a timeline that the article put together about the diner…

Timeline

1985: Claire Bergeron buys the diner that has operated at the same location for decades.

1990: Bergeron leases the restaurant to Barbara Lind, who names it the My Tin Man Diner.

2000: Arson fire set by estranged husband of a diner employee razes the eatery.

2002: William R. Taylor of Bourne is sentenced on federal arson charges to five years in prison.

2008: Lind and her daughter, Susan Kettell Lind, open a new My Tin Man Diner in North Falmouth.

2010: The Patriot Diner opens at the MacArthur Boulevard location.

Source: Claire Bergeron and Times archives

Bruce Trotto reopens Blue Belle Diner


Blue Belle Diner at its long-time operating location on Prescott Street
In Worcester, Mass.

It has been a long time coming but the day has finally arrived, the Blue Belle Diner has been reopened at its new location just over the town line from Worcester on Route 70 in Shrewsbury, Mass. The Blue Belle Diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 814  has been in limbo for 12 years when it was relocated from its long-time home on Prescott Street in Worcester in 1998. In the interim it has been moved to locations in Shrewsbury, Milford, Worcester and Princeton but never put back into service until it landed back in Shrewsbury last year adjacent to Dinky’s Restaurant & Cafe, an on-site built restaurant operated by Bruce Trotto.


The Blue Belle Diner earlier this year showing the new installation
adjacent to Dinky’s in Shrewsbury

I saw mentions on Facebook yesterday from Randy Garbin, Brian Goslow and Bruce Trotto himself about the diner being opened.  I checked out the diners website  http://www.dinkys.us/  and there was this little blurb……..

Thursday, September 16th 2010, Dinky’s Blue Belle Diner quietly opened it’s doors to the new addition of the former Dinky’s Restaurant & Cafe! ” We’re going to spend a week or so ironing out the wrinkles before the GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION the weekend of October 2nd and 3rd.”

I am planning on getting out to Shrewsbury next weekend for the Grand Opening.  I will post new photos after my visit.