|Star Gazette Local News
for Wednesday 12/12/01
One-time Elmira diner heads east with new lease on life
By SALLE E. RICHARDS
|The Associated Press
Vestal's former Village
Chef Diner starts its 305-mile journey Tuesday to
A diner that disappeared from downtown Elmira in the early 1960s
will soon be seating those hungry for nostalgia in New Hampshire.
The Mayfair Diner, once located at 100 W. Market St., Elmira,
and then reborn as the Village Chef Diner on the Vestal Parkway
in Vestal, is being saved by the American Diner Museum of Providence,
R.I., a 6-year-old organization that works to find new owners
for forsaken diners before they face the wrecking ball.
The 33-ton prefabricated diner began its 305-mile journey Tuesday
from Vestal to its new home in Bow, N.H.
"People don't realize what they have until it's too late," Daniel
Zilka, director of the museum, said Tuesday.
Zilka was in Elmira earlier this fall to research the Mayfair's
history. The diner was built by Kullman Industries Inc. of Avenel,
N.J., Zilka said.
Zilka said he thinks it was bought by Elmiran Bernard Comerski
in the late 1940s as a reconditioned diner. The diner's mahogany
interior places its original manufacture before the 1940s, he
The 18-foot-by-65-foot building is a "very unique diner," Zilka
Zilka said a lot of people simply don't know what to do with
these old diners. His organization has saved 18 diners in its
"They can donate them to us, get a tax credit, and we will find
a home for it. That way these wonderful buildings are not demolished
and instead are put back into service," he said.
That's what Alex Ray, owner of The Common Man Restaurant, a chain
of nine restaurants in New Hampshire, has in mind for the old
Mayfair. The diner will be stored in Bow until it's renovated
and ready to become part of the chain.
Plans in Vestal were for the diner to be torn down and the site
used for a new car dealership, but the car dealer decided to donate
the old eatery.
The Associated Press and George Basler of Gannett News Service
contributed to this report.