Goodbye to the Rosebud Diner

Well as reported in the past few months, the Rosebud Diner of Davis Square in Somerville, Mass. has finally closed under the ownership of the Nichols family after a long run. The Nichols’ actually purchased the diner from its original owner back in 1957 and almost immediately they converted it to use as a Cocktail Lounge/Bar. The backbar was removed along with all the cooking equipment and the original ventilation hood when it became the cocktail lounge. It was operated this way right up until around 1989 when the family sold it. During the time period from 1989-1994 it was operated by at least 2 different entities, one of which was a Tex-Mex place called the Cuckoo’s Nest. At that point a couple of more changes were made to the already altered interior. The original stainless steel covered refrigerator was removed and the left end of the counter was chopped off. When the place closed circa 1994, the new owners defaulted on the mortgage that was held by the Nichols family. The Nichols’ ended up getting the diner back thru land court at this point. The diner had gotten a slightly bad reputation and the Nichols’ decided that it was time to bring the building back as a true diner.

Bill and Nicky Nichols on Grand Reopening day, February, 1995 at the
Rosebud Diner –  photo by Larry Cultrera

So the family spent a few months cleaning up the interior by refinishing the original woodwork getting some used wooden booths that were not too different than what had been there originally as well as installing a new left end of the counter. They also refurbished the neon sign on the roof. The menu from 1995 to now had been slightly upscale but the diner was now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The back room which had operated as another space variously as an upscale Italian Restaurant, Night Club and eventually a venue for live music acts and bar & grill since 1995. About a year and a half ago rumors started flying that the diner was for sale. The first rumors never panned out but more recently the word got out that a guy named Marty Bloom was in the running to buy the place. Bloom had started the successful chain of upscale restaurants called Vinny Testa’s (later known as Vinny T’s) and eventually sold the chain and started other venues. Bloom’s reported plans for the diner have not sounded like he wants to retain the interior character unfortunately. He does say the exterior will remain the same and as I believe, the fact that the diner is listed in the National Register of Historic Places will not protect it from being altered. So I guess the future of this classic diner remains to be seen.

Back in March, Glenn Wells and Mike Engle decided they wanted to make a trip out from the Albany area to check out the Rosebud one last time. They were joined by myself, David Hebb, Gary Thomas and Bob Marville on March 3, 2013 and we all had breakfast. We kibitzed with Billy Nichols and Helen DeFransisco and shot some photos, etc.

Left to right, Larry Cultrera, Glenn Wells (in back), David Hebb, Mike Engle, Gary Thomas and Bob Marville at the Rosebud Diner. March 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I have been friends with Billy Nichols for around 30 years. Along with my friendship, I have actually designed the logo for their coffee mugs as well as a breakfast menu and 2 post cards for the diner. I actually had one last meal about 3 weeks ago on a Friday night and the diner closed after the day of business on Sunday May 26, 2013. I got an email this past Saturday morning from Dick Gutman who had placed a link for  a Craigslist ad  to a yard sale at the diner. They were selling off various and sundry things like dish ware, pots and pans, etc. Denise and I stopped by for one last visit.

Bill and Nicky Nichols on Saturday June 1, 2013 at the Rosebud Diner
 photo by Larry Cultrera

 Rosebud Diner during yard sale, June 1, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I’ll be keeping in touch with Billy Nichols and wish him well along with Helen DeFransisco, his dad Gally and brother Nicky. I hope the diner does not get trashed too bad, but I guess that will remain to be seen.

Rosebud Diner soon to be sold


I was talking with Bill Nichols of the Rosebud Diner of Somerville, Mass. within the last 2 weeks and he informed me that the diner was going to be sold he estimated sometime in March. He also said not to advertise it and I of course told him I would not. Well with a piece published from the Somerville Patch this morning ( it looks like the cat is actually out of the bag. Here is the piece written by Chris Orchard…

Rosebud Diner to Get New Owner, Updated Look and Food

Restauranteur Marty Bloom, who founded Vinny Testa’s, plans revamp the restaurant into something more contemporary while leaving the historic diner’s exterior untouched.

Marty Bloom, a local restaurateur who founded Vinny Testa’s and owns Mission Oak Grill in Newburyport, is close to cementing a deal to purchase Davis Square’s Rosebud Diner, according to Bloom, who attended a Somerville Licensing Commission meeting Wednesday night.

Bloom said the completed sale would likely become final sometime in late March or early April. He was at the Licensing Commission meeting to request the transfer of Rosebud’s alcohol, victualer and entertainment licenses to his company, a request the commission approved.

Bloom said he plans to leave the exterior of the diner untouched. “It’s iconic,” he told the commission, saying, “I have talked to the historic commission in depth” about the local landmark.

However, he plans to renovate the interior of the diner and the restaurant space behind the diner. He also plans to revamp the menu, he said.

“We’re going to be doing a big upgrade on it,” he told the commission, saying he wants to merge the diner and the restaurant area into one space, change the floor plan and update the kitchen and bathrooms. He’ll probably put in a new bar and stage, he said.

As for the menu, Bloom said he plans to serve food that’s “a little newer” and “contemporary.”

“Updating the classics,” he called it.

He cautioned that “this all could change” as plans for the diner evolve into something more definitive. Initially the restaurant would just see “minor renovations,” he said.

Rosebud would likely close for some time while renovations take place, Bloom said.

News of the sale comes about six months after reports surfaced that something was going on with the diner. In June, Somerville Scout had a conversation with Bill Nichols, son of Rosebud’s owner, Gally Nichols. The younger Nichols told the magazine his father was planning to close the diner. Gally Nichols later said the story was a rumor.