From seaside town to the New Hampshire mountains, popular Newport Diner is moving north

After unsuccessfully trying to find another location to move their diner, owners Steve and Vicki Bishop have stopped listing the diner for sale this year and are closing its doors forever in August.

Then, sometime in early summer, a young girl in New Hampshire saw the YouTube video of the diner being put up for sale and showed it to her father.

Shawn J. Sylvester, who loved diners from his early days as a driver for his father’s trucking company, said he fell madly in love with Bishop’s classic red and white stainless steel diner. It is one of 200 examples made by the Jerry O’Mahony company of New Jersey, the same maker of the Miss Wakefield Diner in Sanbornville, NH

It was there that Sylvester met his future wife in the mid-1990s. He drove for his father’s trucking company and she worked at the Miss Wakefield, which was then her family’s. “I came by at 6 a.m. and she was the waitress. And the rest was history,” said Sylvester.

Her father had brought the diner from Albany, NY and restored it in New Hampshire. Sylvester now hopes to repeat history with Bishop’s Diner.

“I love dinner. It’s the nostalgia, the history, that’s all,” Sylvester said. “I couldn’t let this diner get hurt in any way. At the beginning of the summer I said to Steve and Vicki, ‘No way tear it down. I’ll bend over backwards to make sure the diner comes from this side.’”

Customers having breakfast on Bishop’s Diner’s classic stools. John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Sylvester said a few miracles came into play.

The buildings and diner were scheduled for demolition on September 1, but the Newport Planning Board balked when the project engineer’s attorney asked them on September 12 to approve the demolition request. Instead, at the behest of Planning Committee member Theresa Stokes, the board voted unanimously to contact the Rhode Island Historic and Preservation Heritage Commission to determine if the 60-year-old diner had historical value and to allow the commission the opportunity to to misplace it. within a reasonable time.”

Sylvester was still watching the dinner. “I told Vicki and Steve I couldn’t afford $150,000 [the original asking price], but don’t let it be crushed. I’ll do what I can, I’ll definitely move it,” he said.

The Sylvesters bought the diner for an undisclosed amount; He said Colbea Enterprises worked with him to remove it. Then came the scramble for permits to take it off shore at 184 Admiral Kalfbus Road and drive more than 200 miles to a storage location near Conway, NH

Bay Crane Northeast of Smithfield offered to move the diner in a three-day process that began October 11 and included driving through Rhode Island after midnight, having a state police escort, and obtaining a special permit from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation the 16½- Foot wide diner to break the 16-foot plus size limit, Sylvester said.

“I feel like a miracle,” said Sylvester. “It was a lot of stress and a lot of work getting it out of there and it was a miracle it happened.”

His biggest regret was not being able to drive the diner himself and see the looks on other drivers’ faces. He’ll get that chance when they move the diner to his next permanent home. He said they want to buy land in the Mount Washington Valley area to serve locals and tourists in the White Mountains.

“The diner itself is an amazing piece of history, it’s just something that I think pulls everyone in,” said Sylvester. “A dinner is really something special. I’m so glad we were able to save it. I’m on cloud nine.”

They haven’t settled on a name yet, though Sylvester is leaning toward the Star Diner in a nod to the miracles he said it took to save it from destruction. He’s hoping to honor his past, with possible menu items named after the bishops, or a nod to his former name as the Princeton Diner, or his original home in Swansea, Mass.

“It was a real blessing to be able to help save the diner and an even greater blessing to be its keeper,” said Sylvester.

One thing he knows for sure, said Sylvester, they will own the land the diner calls home.

“The diner doesn’t fit into the new dream, but it does fit into our new dream.


Amanda Milkovits can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @AmandaMilkovits.

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