Closed Wiscasset diner becoming The Route 1 Diner

Fri, 08/06/2021 - 6:45pm

    Tristan Koehling never had the chance to eat at Miss Wiscasset Diner. “But from what I understand, it was a good place to eat.”

    The Bath man is working to make 762 Bath Road a good place to eat again. He and wife Ashlea are opening it under a new name. A roadside banner reads: “Coming soon, The Route 1 Diner.”

    Koehling had hoped to open later this month. But he said renovations, including a new bathroom and commercial grade, waterproof hardwood flooring, have taken time. “So it’s looking like the middle of September.”

    It will be the first time in more than two years people can come there to eat. Boothbay Harbor’s Kelley Coady and Mark Suarez closed Miss Wiscasset Diner in July 2019, after a staffing shortage.

    The property’s owner Bob Rogers said Friday, he leased Koehling the diner July 1 for two years, with an option to buy. Rogers has 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 to call it Miss Wiscasset Diner. It has had a series of operators over five decades.

    “I’m pretty excited about it,” Rogers told Wiscasset Newspaper about the diner’s latest incarnation. With Koehling’s experience, “I know he’ll do well,” Rogers added.

    Koehling will be there full-time; his wife, at first a couple days a week and they will have up to about four other staff to start, he said.

    Koehling has worked at restaurants about 15 years, including chains and later The Galley and Southgate Family Restaurant, both in Bath. “So I’ve had a little bit of experience in everything (and) I’d just been looking to start my own thing.”

    “I’m really excited to be opening there,” he said in Friday’s phone interview. “And the reason I chose Wiscasset is Bath has a lot of restaurants already, and I  wanted something where there aren’t quite as many.”

    What should people expect? Koehling said to look for “a fresher take on the diner theme,” with as few frozen or canned ingredients as possible, and as many things as possible from Maine. “We’ve been talking with some of the local coffee distributors, and I’ve told them the coffee had to be directly from Maine.”

    The diner will offer breakfast and lunch and may expand to dinner as more staff are hired. “You’re going to get your usual diner fare and we’ll be adding in a couple of dishes (still being picked) that carry inspiration from around the country,” Koehling said.

    The Koehlings plan to put the diner on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.