Originally posted by Michael Hoffman
I recently read that the old Milford Diner on New Haven Avenue in Milford was closing. The same family opened that diner in 1934 and the latest family members to run it have decided to retire. The first visit I can remember to that diner was when I was four or five years old.
And now the good news from the New haven Register:
MILFORD — Milford Diner has a new lease on life. Literally.
Angel Sekelski, whose grandfather, Lou Mema, has owned the school bus-size diner since 1971, announced Tuesday that Waterbury developer John W. Lombard has purchased the diner, agreed to relocate it to Melba Street and allow the family to run it.
"This is the best thing in the world; we couldn’t ask for anything better," Sekelski said. "This is like a miracle on New Haven Avenue."
The diner likely would have closed its doors Friday if Lombard’s son, John, 12, had not asked his father to purchase it after seeing people crying there.
Two weeks ago, Sekelski said the family had decided to sell the diner to Smith-Craft Real Estate Corp., the owner of the property, for $50,000. The family had decided to retire from the business.
Sekelski said Tuesday that Smith-Craft withdrew its offer. Company Co-President Phil Craft disagreed, saying Lombard’s of-fer prompted the Sekelskis to withdraw their offer to sell to Smith-Craft.
Either way, Lombard, a frequent patron of the diner for 20 years who has a summer home in Milford, said he would buy it.
Lombard said people crying at the diner over the weekend tipped him off that the family didn’t want to sell.
Lombard said, "My son Johnny, who’s 12, said, ‘Dad is there something we can do to help these people?’ I thought about it and decided to buy it."
Lombard said he’s paying more than $50,000 for the diner.
Sekelski said the family never wanted to sell to Smith-Craft, but needed money to help Mema, who has Alzheimer’s disease and was concerned the rent would be raised again.
"We want them to stay in town," Craft said. "We wanted to help them. We wish them the best and never wanted them to leave."
Lombard said he owns a strip mall on Melba Street and plans to relocate the diner there. He said he would pour a new foundation, add a new kitchen and bathroom, then move the diner, hopefully by Sept. 30. He said city officials told him the land is zoned for an eatery and there should be no problems relocating it.
Lombard also said he bought the diner partly for gastronomical reasons.
"We enjoy going to Milford Diner for breakfast, and it was a little self serving," Lombard said. "We love the blueberry pancakes."
Sekelski described Lombard as a "knight in shining armor and a savior."
She said Mema has been extremely anxious about the future of his diner.
"That back booth is his security blanket, he needs to interact with the customers," Sekelski said. "Right now he thinks he’s a failure."