Red Rose Diner in Towanda Borough under new ownership
BY JAMES LOEWENSTEIN
Published: Thursday, April 2, 2009 3:16 AM EDT
TOWANDA — The Red Rose Diner, now a Towanda landmark, is under new ownership.
Michael Holt and Bill O’Shea, both from Buck County, bought the 82-year-old diner on Feb. 18, and they held a grand re-opening of the eatery on Wednesday, Holt said.
Holt said he has expanded the hours of the diner so that it stays open until the early evening on Wednesdays through Saturdays, and plans to add items to the menu.
“We’ll put a flower garden and flower boxes around the building,” he said.
Holt is a self-described “diner fanatic” who says he spent years looking for an historic diner to buy and operate, before he decided to buy the Red Rose Diner. He said that he visited approximately 50 diners in his quest to find the right one.
He had read about the Red Rose Diner in books on diners, but did not know it was for sale when he visited it for the first time last summer.
He said he was extremely impressed with what he saw.
“I would have offered to buy it,” Holt said. “I liked it that much. (But) it turned out it was for sale (anyway).”
Holt said he and O’Shea will keep the name “Red Rose Diner,” and have no plans to move the diner from Towanda.
“I love that it’s on Route 6,” he said. “We were fortunate enough to find that it’s in a really special town. We’ll never move it.”
Betty Roof will continue to work at the diner, and she will be doing most of the cooking, Holt said.
“Most of the original features of the diner are still here,” including the stools, marble tabletops and counter tops, mosaic tile floor, stained glass windows, the tile and oak on the interior walls, grill, refrigerator and telephone, Holt said. “It’s an absolute gem in that respect.”
The previous owner, Gordon Tindall, had bought the diner in 1998 and restored it in Lancaster County. Tindall then moved the diner to Towanda, where it opened for business several years ago.
Holt said that last summer, he had talked to George Metropoulos Jr., the 92-year-old son of the original owner of the diner, who had seen the diner after it was restored.
Metropoulos, who used to work at the diner himself, said “the diner looked exactly the way he remembered it,” according to Holt.
Holt said he is applying to have the Red Rose Diner listed on the National Register of Historic Places, partly because of its role in expanding diners to accommodate women.
According to a written statement on the diner’s menu, “it was the first model designed to entice women (to come to the diner). The little tables were added for the ladies and stained glass windows afforded female customers privacy from oglers out on the sidewalk.”
Holt said he has an interest in things that are historic. He said he served on the board of directors of Peddler’s Village in Bucks County, which is “like a little Colonial Williamsburg,” including restored buildings and buildings that were constructed to look historic.
“I’ve always been in the hospitality and restaurant business,” said Holt, who now lives in Towanda.
The Red Rose Diner is located at 526 Main St. in Towanda.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.