Putney Diner to close its doors

Thursday December 6, 2012

PUTNEY -- Will anyone save the Putney Diner this time?

After sparing the eatery from extinction seven years ago, owner Robin Wright is ready to sell the place she considers the heart of the town.

Robin purchased the diner from Debra Julien when it looked like it might go under and she and her family have run it ever since. She, her mother, Doreen, and her sister, Heather, have all managed the restaurant over the years but none are able to carry out the necessary duties any longer. Doreen has retired, Heather has a 2-year-old baby and Robin lives in Bar Harbor, Maine, where she owns other businesses.

She said she cares about the place too much to manage it poorly and so the time has come to sell. The last day of business will be Sunday, Dec. 23.

"We have a nice little clientele. We have the best customers. I love them. They're awesome," she said sitting on one of the stools in front of the counter of the 1,200-square-foot building. "They're sad (it's closing) but they understand. They don't really see Heather here because they know she has the baby. They miss my mom and they know I'm up (in Maine). They're just really hoping that somebody else comes and opens it again."

The building contains the restaurant, an ice cream shop and dairy bar and Heather lives in one of the two apartments upstairs. Robin said the building is for sale and the restaurant space is up for lease.

Robin started off as a waitress at the diner almost 25 years ago and eventually got the chance to become its third owner. She said she is far too busy in Maine -- where she owns a deli, does catering and rents out properties -- to manage the Putney Diner, which has about six staff members.

Robin said business has been fair and the diner has persevered through the toughest economic years of 2008, 2009 and 2010. Events such as Tropical Storm Irene, Hurricane Sandy and a lackluster winter in 2011 have made things challenging but Robin said customer loyalty is as strong as ever. She said when she bought the diner she saw the same people she once waited on years earlier.

"We're going to miss everyone so much," she said. "It's really sad. It was definitely a part of Putney for a really long time. It breaks my heart. ... But sometimes you've got to do what you've got to do."

Heather broke the news to the diner's Facebook friends on Tuesday.

"We have been blessed with many good friends and customers over the years here, in Putney, and will miss you terribly," the post reads. "Please stop in before then to have a meal, and to say good-bye to the diner."

The post had more than 50 comments as of Wednesday evening, with people expressing their sadness and shock.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277.


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