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

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