Chapters closing, opening for Miss Wiscasset Diner site

Property owner Bob Rogers: Next renter will keep it a diner
Fri, 08/23/2019 - 8:45pm

    Ismael Martinez, 12, of Westport Island had a favorite order at Miss Wiscasset Diner, the country-fried breakfast. Then a week after his last visit there, he was on vacation in South Carolina when he looked on the Wiscasset Newspaper website and saw the diner had closed.

    “That was a bummer,” his father Ryan Daniels said. Friday, father and son were back at the diner, about a month since it closed. They were checking out helmets and other personal and restaurant goods the business’s owners Kelley Coady and Mark Suarez were selling, through Sunday in the Bath Road building and parking lot.

    The sale dates were on the roadside, marquis sign the Boothbay Harbor couple bought a few months ago, when they had no plans to shut down. Friday, the sign was for sale.

    “This saddens me. This is not how it was supposed to be,” Coady said about being back at the diner selling cleaning supplies, dry goods and more, instead of feeding the customers they got to know over five years there. She reiterated, the closing came down to being short-staffed and not wanting to stay open if they couldn’t provide the level of service their customers were used to. 

    But both were also feeling relieved. Suarez said that was his main feeling, because they needed to sell the goods and because the business had been a seven-day a week job for him. Coady works full-time at Washburn & Doughty and worked weekends at the diner, he said. The couple went to the North Woods after closing the diner and they plan another trip there, he said.

    They still have no plans to open another restaurant, but later this year they may work at one in the Boothbay area during Gardens Aglow, they said. It was among a number of offers they have had, and they told the business they would be glad to help out then, Suarez said. They didn’t want to name it yet.

    In the lot minutes later, Daniels told Coady he was sorry about the closing and his family missed the food and the service. 

    The property’s longtime owner, one of the diner’s past operators, Bob Rogers, was a regular, too. His usual was two eggs, crispy bacon, hash browns and dry rye toast. “They were starting to call me ‘same old, same old,’” he said, smiling behind the counter of his business of 47 years next door, Wiscasset Trading  Post.

    Rogers said he bought the restaurant in 1972 from Ray Dunkling, who built it and ran it as Ray’s Place. Rogers and first wife Mary Lou were the first operators to call it Miss Wiscasset Diner. They used to cater for Maine Yankee, he recalled.

    Since the restaurant closed last month, he has sought a buyer or renter and has had nine inquiries for one or the other, he said. And he said now he has a renter lined up; with the lease still to sign, he said plans call for a two-year lease with an option to buy. And Rogers is happy it is someone experienced and who plans to re-open it as a diner. 

    Whether or not the lease leads to a sale for him and wife Heather Pitcher, Rogers expects to still be working next door, unless or until the trading post-kayak and canoe business sells. They put it on the market last Christmas. Even so, he added between taking phone calls, he can’t picture himself retired.

    Rogers said he misses his usual at the diner and will miss having Coady and Suarez there. “They were good tenants and they always paid on time.”