UPDATE: This article has been updated with comment from Assistant Town Manager Kristen Las.
SHREWSBURY – Shrewsbury’s Edgemere Diner is on the move.
It’s not going far, at least for the time being, though, as the diner’s owner plans to temporarily store the structure in Grafton before eventually relocating it to New York.
Crews were busy on Tuesday morning loading the diner car onto a truck. Contacted by the Community Advocate, owner Michael Cioffi said they would remain at the site for much of the rest of the day on Tuesday.
Once secured, the diner was scheduled to sit overnight before being transported on Wednesday.
Diner sold at auction last year
The Edgemere Diner long served as a staple in Shrewsbury.
It passed through multiple owners in its time.
It sat vacant in its final years in Shrewsbury, though, on a lot owned by the town, ultimately proceeding to auction in November. The diner was sold to Cioffi for $45,000.
Back in November, auctioneer Paul Zekos described the event as an “old-time auction” filled with interested parties who were intrigued by the diner and who shared old memories of their time in it.
Zekos said Cioffi would be transporting the diner back to his home in the Catskills area of New York and working to restore it.
“He was very excited about the acquisition,” Zekos said of Cioffi.
The dining car, which is believed to have been produced in the 1940s by the Fodero Dining Car Company, wasn’t the only piece of the Edgemere Diner sold at auction.
The Edgemere Diner sign was sold to Spiro Giannopoulos, of Worcester, for $1,000 immediately after the sale of the dining car.
Relocation delayed by weather, other issues
An initial deadline called for the diner to be relocated by Dec. 23.
Come January, though, the diner remained parked at its longtime home on Route 20, at 51 Hartford Turnpike.
Assistant Town Manager Kristen Las told the Community Advocate in January that the dining car needed to be detached from an existing block wall and back kitchen prior to its transportation. At that time, the project had requested demolition permits that were under review by the town.
Las said that the timeline for the diner to be removed was based on several factors, including weather.
“As we moved through the winter, it got more and more apparent that it wasn’t going to be able to leave,” Cioffi said on Tuesday.
He continued, thanking the town for working with him as he worked with contractors to plan Edgemere’s move.
Las said on Tuesday that the town has had a “good working relationship” with Cioffi, saying that he worked “very diligently” with his contractors and others to get the needed permits in order to get the Edgemere Diner in shape to be shipped off.
Las said town staff also worked diligently to remove the aforementioned back portion of the diner.
“It’s really been a group effort over the past five months to get the diner in a position where it is ready to leave the site and be transported to a new home and hopefully be reinvigorated,” Las said.
“I think it’s a bittersweet moment for the Town of Shrewsbury with the diner leaving,” she continued.
‘This endeavor is a lot’
Finally on site this week, contractors first hoisted the aging Edgemere Diner off its foundation before securing it on its truck.
For Cioffi, who already owns a separate dining car in the Catskills, that sight of seeing the Edgemere car move was nerve-wracking.
“It’s held together,” he said, though.
He credited older building techniques with keeping diners like the Edgemere dining car viable for transport projects like the one currently underway.
“If this was built today, it would probably be a couple thousand pounds lighter but more fragile,” he said.
Watching crews slowly secure the dining car on a flatbed on Tuesday, Cioffi did note some surprises and lingering challenges.
Among them will be the transportation route, itself, which had to be rerouted after planners noted that the oversized load would not be able to pass through construction around the nearby Edgemere Crossing development in Shrewsbury.
“This endeavor is a lot,” he said.
It’s worth it, nonetheless, Cioffi said, as he expressed pride in preserving a piece of history now set to leave its longtime home in Shrewsbury.
“It’s got a lot of history,” Cioffi said. “…You can’t recreate this kind of stuff.”
Selectmen to talk next steps
With Shrewsbury owning the land the diner was located on, town leaders will be discussing the future of the property.
The Board of Selectmen is scheduled to review a Community One Stop application at its meeting tonight.
According to Las, Community One Stop is a state grant application. Las said Shrewsbury is looking to receive funds to hire a consultant to look at the land and its potential of redevelopment of the site
“Whether that be for a multitude of uses – returning back to open space, affordable housing, some sort of commercial entity,” Las said. “We’re excited to embark on that process with that application coming forward to the board tonight.”
The Board of Selectmen will meet tonight at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.