An icon is leaving the village on the back of a flatbed truck next week.



The Newark Diner closed its doors Sunday, April 7 for the final time. Owner Jim McBride will turn the keys over to new owner, the Larkin Company on April 15.

An icon is leaving the village on the back of a flatbed truck next week.

The Newark Diner closed its doors Sunday, April 7 for the final time. Owner Jim McBride will turn the keys over to new owner, the Larkin Company on April 15.

McBride said a year ago he was fully prepared to sell the diner to Larkin, but when the land sale fell through, he was forced to pull back on the diner offer. When an investor out of Rochester put in a purchase offer on the property this past fall, McBride called Larkin to see if they were still interested.

On Monday, Larkin will begin preparing the diner to be moved to Columbus, Ohio, where it will spend the next year undergoing renovations before it is transported to the Larkin District in downtown Buffalo. Once the diner has been removed, the back add-on will be torn down and the basement filled in. There is speculation by some that neighboring Dunkin Donuts may expand its parking lot onto the parcel.

After 28 years working 16-hour days at the diner, McBride said he has mixed feelings about the sale.

“It feels funny. It’s a sad feeling, but it’s also a joyous feeling,” he said. “It came at the right time.”
McBride is still recovering from some serious health problems that wouldn’t allow him to return to the diner.

“It was a blessing in a disguise really,” he said.

The diner has a vast and colorful history.

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.

“From 1939 until the Thruway was built in 1955, the diner was open 24 hours and did a big business,” local historian John Zornow said.

Scofield also repaired cars, owning a machine shop where he built custom vegetable toppers, Zornow said. He also opened an Esso Standard Oil station where Dunkin Donuts is now located. When Scofield died in 1960, his son, Paul, ran the businesses until 1973. Zornow said Phil Marvin then took over the auto dealer and gas station and John Reynolds bought the diner. Several years later, the diner went to auction and McBride purchased it.

“The diner was a destination here in Newark, known for old-fashioned bacon and eggs breakfasts, corned beef and cabbage and its fish fries,” Zornow said. “When I was Newark Chamber administrator at the (canal) port in 2010, boaters and bikers would say ‘Tell me how to get to the Newark diner.’”

Since the diner ran on natural gas power, it was also a popular spot during power outages, where residents were always guaranteed a warm meal, no matter the weather.

“Jim would take the extra effort to be open during ice storms and blizzards so plow crews would have a place to get food,” Zornow added.

The diner has seen some famous faces over the years: Sybil Shearer, a 1930 Newark High School graduate and pioneer in modern dance; Todd Collins, former Buffalo Bills quarterback; Bud Paxon, WACK disc jockey and founder of Home Shopping Network. But what many will remember most is the cast and crew from the soap opera “General Hospital.”

Contacted in 1993 by the soap opera, McBride recalled, the diner had everything they needed for filming. With McBride’s permission, crews brought in pine trees to create the appearance that the diner was in the woods. The show even blew up a truck in the parking lot, McBride said.

“Excerpts were aired for a year after that,” McBride said, although he recalls being too busy to watch the episodes himself.

Zornow is sad to see the diner go, but has many fond memories to look back on.

“I remember the late Ernie DeWandel, who was a cook and manager of Scofield's Diner, later Newark Diner, in the 1950s to 70s,” he said. “He was a marvel to watch. He could crack an egg, flip eggs, take orders and smoke a cigarette all in one motion. He never needed the waitress to write anything down, just call out the orders. He spent his spare time looking out the diner window to the west, checking on his shiny new Buick parked right outside the window — he bought it at discount from his employer, Scofield Garage.”