Who says Economic Development Directors don’t have a heart? This weekend our Economic Development Director (Dan Smith) proved otherwise by arranging for a ceremonial send off for the old red diner, aka Jerry’s Diner, downtown. I know the newspaper picked up the story but I wanted to mention it here again and share a few old time photo’s that came in as a result of the walk down memory lane.
As the latest owner in a long line of owners of the old red diner, the City wanted to honor all the memories that the old diner provided for folks over the last 60 years. So Dan Smith arranged for an early lunch following the homecoming parade for anyone that wanted to say goodbye to the diner in a modern version of the last supper. I don’t know if Dan qualifies for the lead role in that story but he certainly earned some points with the old timers that came to pay their last respects and chat up a few good stories of the diner.
There’s no question that the diner is an icon in downtown Kent and if the walls could talk I’m sure we could be entertained for weeks. But alas all good things come to an end and unfortunately over the last decade the once proud diner fell into disrepair after a fire gutted the place. The interior damage was enough to keep it closed for good and rather than letting it sit any longer as an eyesore the City is preparing to send it off to greener pastures and clear the lot for something new in it’s place.
Being the good public steward that he is, Dan was able to arrange for food donations without needing any public dollars for the picnic and he’s seeing if someone might actually buy the old diner at an auction that we’re currently in the process of advertising. Bidders will have to put up a $1,000 performance bond (meaning that can’t say they want it and then leave it there for another 10 years) and they’ll have 2 weeks to get it removed from the site. I’ve seen the stuff people buy and sell on ebay so who knows maybe the old diner can be a revenue source for the City.
I suppose there’s some cruel irony in the fact that what made the diner great was also its undoing in the end — greasy food. There’s probably some message about too much of a good thing can be bad that we can all take away from the diner’s demise but putting aside the morality lesson of the diner we’ve had a chance to hear a lot of stories about the sentimental value of the diner to students and residents alike.
We came across an old post card about the diner that had my favorite write up of what the diner was during its peak: Jerry’s Diner – where philosophers, poets, artists, folksingers and others of dubious repute often gather.
That’s how the diner should be remembered and while the names have changed over the years, Kent still prides itself for all its interesting characters of dubious repute.
Jerry’s Diner September 2008
Jerry’s Diner 1975
Inside Jerry’s Diner 1952