Goodbye, Bridge Diner; hello, Royal Farms?
The longtime Havre de Grace diner, near the triangular intersection of Route 40 and Ohio Street, closed its doors earlier this month.
The closure clears the way for a possible Royal Farms store that city officials say would take over the three parcels at the intersection, occupied by the diner, Montville Taxi and a house.
Royal Farms has yet to settle on the land or come up with a preliminary plan, Havre de Grace planning and zoning deputy director Donald J. Bautz said Monday.
The diner, meanwhile, shuttered its doors by Dec. 8 after decades at the entrance to Havre de Grace at the foot of the Hatem Bridge.
Real estate agent Allen Fair said the diner may date to the 1930s.
"We would go there as a kid, and that would have been in the late 1940s," he said. "We will miss it."
Fair said he has still eaten there "pretty much every Sunday morning."
"We've enjoyed it for years and [it had] a lot of locals. You know everybody and it was kind of neat," he said. "You'd see the same people day in and day out, and a lot of people would come and actually eat their meal at lunchtime."
Fair said he thought the diner had good hamburgers and cheeseburgers, particularly.
"Pretty much everything was good there, really," he said.
City Mayor Wayne Dougherty recalled the Bridge Diner fondly from his youth as a place to get real meals – unlike, he said, the chain diners of today.
"It's an icon. After school and after dances, that's where we all went," Dougherty said.
"It's real diner food," he noted. "I am sad that the diner's not going to be there. It's got a lot of memories. They provided real meals to people."
But Bautz said Royal Farms will mean a revitalized corner at Route 40 and Ohio, which is good news for the city.
"It's a significant improvement to the intersection," he said. "It's a win-win for everybody."
Bautz said Royal Farms discussed the feasibility of its plans with the city about a year ago to make sure the store was a permitted use.
The store would fit better in the intersection than the current properties, Bautz said.
"It's tight for the three uses that are out there right now," he said, explaining Royal Farms "will provide better traffic flow."
He said the State Highway Administration has also been reviewing the traffic plans for several months.