|
|
|
Wayne Post
  • Village bids adieu to icon

  • The Newark Diner rolled quietly out of the village on a flatbed truck at dawn last Thursday, leaving an empty lot in its wake.

    • email print
  • The Newark Diner rolled quietly out of the village on a flatbed truck at dawn last Thursday, leaving an empty lot in its wake.
    Its leaving was a surprise to many after a delay kept the local icon in its place for weeks after its scheduled departure in April following its closure April 7. Former owner Jim McBride sold the diner to the Larkin District in Buffalo after 28 years in the business. The back building attached to the diner was torn down last week. The lot has been sold to an investor out of Rochester. There is speculation that neighboring Dunkin Donuts may expand its parking lot onto the parcel.
    As the diner was prepared to be moved, the scene drew a crowd of curious yet sad onlookers taking photos as crews worked to load the diner onto blocks and then the flatbed.
    Steve Harwin, owner of Diversified Diners, will be restoring the Sterling-brand diner to like-new condition. Harwin started Diversified Diners 25 years ago. The company specializes in restoring historic diners, often saving them from demolition, he said in an email.
    “I have been involved with a number of museum projects as well as a few which ultimately were included on the (National) Historic Register,” Harwin stated in the email, referring to the diner by its original name, the Scofield Diner. “It usually takes at least seven months to restore a diner properly. Once restored, this diner is slated for relocation into downtown Buffalo.”
    Local residents have fond memories of the diner and the famous faces that have passed through it — from Sybil Shearer, 1930 NHS graduate, a pioneer in modern dance, to Todd Collins, Buffalo Bills quarterback, to Bud Paxon, WACK disc jockey and founder of Home Shopping Network and Brother Wease, morning disc jockey at WCMF, now with 95.1 The Brew. Most famous was the cast and crew of the hit soap opera “General Hospital,” which filmed at the little diner for a week and even blew up a truck in the parking lot.
    “The diner was a destination here in Newark, known for old-fashioned bacon and eggs breakfasts, corned beef and cabbage and its fish fries,” local historian John Zornow said. “When I was Newark Chamber Administrator at the port in 2010, boaters and bikers would say, ‘Tell me how to get to the Newark diner.’”
    Harwin sought Zornow’s help to collect historical data on the diner, especially period photographs to ensure an authentic and accurate restoration.
    Donna Boyd of Marbletown used to work for Jim and Betty McBride, and she remembers the hard work she and other employees put into the business. But the McBrides were more than just bosses, she said.
    “They never asked anything more of you than they did themselves,” Boyd recalled fondly. “I loved the way you could talk to them about a personal problem and Betty would answer you as a mom and say, ‘Now why would you do that?’”
    Page 2 of 2 - Jim would start cooking the minutes the customer walked in the door, Boyd said, because he already knew what they’d order before they ordered it. They were more than just customers to Jim — they were friends, Boyd said.
    “I say friends, because if you walked in a stranger, you walked out a friend,” Boyd said. “If you worked for them, you were made to feel like family, not an employee.”
    For Boyd, there are many fond memories of smiles and laughter at the diner and a whole lot of respect from Jim and Betty given to everyone who walked through the door.
    “It is bittersweet that the diner is gone,” Boyd said. “Betty and Jim needed to retire and enjoy their lives. While I will miss the diner, it is not that far to Buffalo to go sit and eat a burger and enjoy a afternoon. I’m just sorry that again Newark has lost another building.”
    Marilyn Burke of Palmyra remembers going to the diner almost every Sunday after church with her family. Of course back then, it was called Scofield’s Diner, and for Burke that never changed.
    The diner was brought to Newark in 1939. Built by the J.B. Judkins Co., the former builder of custom car bodies of Merrimac, Mass. Original owner Curtis C. Scofield contracted with Judkins to install the diner, a Sterling Streamliner diner. Each of these diners were numbered, and Scofield’s Diner was No. 397.
    Growing up in Palmyra, Burke’s dad was a busy real estate broker. Attending church at St. Anne’s, the family would make the drive to Newark for brunch — it was their family time, Burke said.
    Her parents made a habit of going to the diner long before Burke was born, but it was a tradition that stuck. At the age 64, Burke was still stopping in the diner for a bite to eat.
    She remembers the big jukebox that used to be inside and each table had a mini box where customers could insert their coins, make a selection and hear it play throughout the diner.
    “You’d walk in and always see someone you know,” she said. “I have a lot of fond memories of going there with my family. We always enjoyed it.”

      calendar