Rindge looking forward to classic diner opening soon
A 1947 diner has made a more than 700-mile journey from Ottawa, Ohio, to the corner of routes 119 and 202 in the small town of Rindge.
The Hometown Diner, as it was named a few years ago when it was refurbished, was purchased by Rindge businessman Tim Halliday, who said he has been looking for the past two years for a diner for the corner lot he owns. It made the trek last week.
When you step inside, you step back in time.
Halliday, who is occupied with running his Rindge business 202 Truck and Equipment, said he has no experience as a restaurateur, but plenty of experience as an owner of rental property. He is currently talking with a family that has a great deal of restaurant experience and is interested in leasing the restaurant.
The construction of a 24-by-41-foot kitchen addition for the diner is also in the works, he said.
Halliday is hoping the diner will open by September.
It will be just the kind of place a working guy, just as he is, can stop for a quick meal during the day, he said. And currently there are no restaurants in town that serve breakfast.
The atmosphere of a diner also suits people who want to hang out, drink coffee, or hold a business lunch if they want, Halliday said.
Rindge needs a diner, he said, and though he could have built one on his lot, he had his heart set on an original diner.
"I'm not an antique freak or anything, but there's a lot to be said about being the real thing, the real McCoy," he said.
The Rindge diner was made in mass production in Paterson, N.J. The Paterson Vehicle Company's line of Silk City diners was considered the Chevrolet of diners, said Steve Harwin of Cleveland-based Diversified Diners.
Harwin moved the Hometown Diner from London, Kentucky, to Ottawa, Ohio, in 2010 and restored it for Matthias Kaplanow of Germany.
"This guy had fled East Germany when he was a kid and ended up in Ottawa, because I guess there was a German community there, and he always wanted to run a diner," Harwin said.
"Everybody and their cousin dreams of owning a diner," Harwin said, adding it's a dream that takes a lot of hard work and heart.
Kaplanow tried to run the diner from his home in Germany, which didn't work out.
"One of the unique things about diners is they have personalities," Harwin said.
"It's an American concept that other cultures really love, the idea of diners, and they try to emulate it," Harwin said. "They say at most big downtown diners you sit at the stool and you get the judge, the lawyer and the criminal all sitting together."
Diners hit their heyday after World War II, when GIs out of the service were looking to earn a living.
"You could buy a diner on credit and, literally, for very little money you could set it up wherever and if you missed some payments they would send a truck and pick it up," Harwin said. On the flip side, if you were successful, you could find a better location and move the diner easily.
That's a possibility for this diner. Halliday said he is open to selling his property and moving the diner to another location."It's probably not the best use of the property," Halliday said, but added the diner would give what is considered the gateway of the town a much-needed hometown feel."Nothing against them, but there are way too many CVSs on the good corners in small towns," he said.
In looking for his diner, Halliday said he passed many up because of their poor condition. When he found the recently restored Hometown Diner, with its ceramic tiles, counter stools and wooden booths, he knew it was the one.
"It is a historic landmark. It is historic because it's 50 or 60 years old," Harwin said. "You have a bona fide landmark. I hope they embrace it."
Residents are already excited about the diner, Halliday said.
Halliday and his family members can't seem to go anywhere in town without being hounded by the question. "When can I get breakfast?"
"There's a lot of stir and interest and they can't wait for it to open because we don't really have any gathering place in Rindge where people can get together and spread gossip," said former selectman Jed Brummer. "I think it will be very successful. If they have decent food, it will be very busy and run out of space very quickly."