Worcester’s Mac’s Diner Burns

Mac’s Diner Burns – Article in the Telegram



WORCESTER — For the half-dozen times a month Bob Hebb heads into Worcester from his hometown of Ayer, he makes sure to head over to Shrewsbury Street.

His destination is Mac’s Diner, where a large kettle of soup usually beckons and the stools are filled with patrons he knows by name.

But yesterday, Mr. Hebb arrived at his favorite restaurant only to learn that an overnight fire had damaged and closed the business.

The owners of the restaurant — which dates to 1931 — are unsure when they’ll reopen.

“You have never eaten in here? They have a kettle of soup that is about this high,” Mr. Hebb said, holding his hands a couple of feet apart. “I don’t know where I’m going to eat.”

As Mr. Hebb was left wondering where he’d get his usual soup and a sausage sandwich — made on the diner’s homemade bread — a crew of city Department of Public Works and Parks workers headed to the entrance at 185 Shrewsbury St.

Mr. Hebb soon informed them of the situation: “It’s closed. There was a fire.”

About noon yesterday, owner Chris McMahon of Holden walked around inside the diner and assessed the damage. Mac’s is said to be the oldest diner in the city.

He doesn’t know when it will reopen.

“I couldn’t even guess. I’m at the mercy of the Fire and Building departments,” he said. “Hopefully not that long. I have to make a living.”

The fire started about 12:30 a.m. in a storage area in the rear of the building, where there are freezers and refrigerators.

Mr. McMahon said the cause of the fire appears to be electrical but fire officials have not yet determined the cause.

Firefighters broke through a front window and doused the flames with water.

The upper diner area was damaged as well as a side area. The acrid smell of burnt wood replaced the normal smell of home-cooked meals yesterday afternoon.

The damage could have been worse, but the diner’s concrete and brick walls didn’t give the fire much to feed on. Holden police knocked on Mr. McMahon’s door early yesterday morning to notify him about the fire.

He raced down to Shrewsbury Street.

“When I first showed up here, I was in total shock,” he said. “I have come to assess it. It’s manageable, but it is definitely going to set us back.”

“In 78 years, we’ve never had a fire here,” Mr. McMahon, 31, said.

“We plan to fix it as soon as we can because we are all going to be out of money.”

Customers continually called the diner yesterday asking if the owners needed help and to say they were sorry. The diner is normally open Monday through Friday for lunch, with dinner also served Thursday through Saturday.

Many customers favor Mac’s because of its BYOB standing.

“April, May and June are our busy season,” Mr. McMahon said.

“It’s not a good financial time, and our employees are also out of work. We’re missing out on our money time.”

Mac’s Diner is/was a 1931 Worcester Diner.



My Art

I paint what I like.

Harold’s Furniture, Lebanon, PA.
Notice that the neon of the sign reads, “Furniture”, while the enamel reads Harolds. Photographed this one on a Lebanon diner trip. Unfortunately, most of the diners from that trip have now either been moved or are closed.


Abandoned Silk Mill, Columbia, PA.
Saw this while driving down the highway on the way to Lancaster. Pulled off at the exit and took some quick snaps in the early morning mist. The roof’s long since caved in, and the entire thing’s fenced off. That’s probably a good idea, it looks about ready to fall down, and I’m sure there are enough people like me out there who are just curious and stupid enough to go in.
This is a fairly massive painting, done on a big piece of plywood. I finished in less than a week, working day and night at the Maryland Summer Center for the Arts at Salisbury University, to get it ready for a show.


Abandoned Travel Trailer, Oatman, AZ
This is just outside tourist trap central, Oatman, Arizona, famous for its wild donkeys. The trailer’s an old model, filled with light wood and broken bottles.


Music Store, Kingman, AZ
Kingman Arizona was the first stop of our Arizona trip. We stayed at a restored hotel across from the railroad tracks, owned by a French gentleman. The town’s a hotbed of neon.


Nash, Cool Springs, AZ
A rusty old nash sitting outside the Cool Springs gas station, on the road from Kingman to Oatman, one of the most beautiful and winding stretches of road you’ll ever have the pleasure to drive.


Gas pump detail (work in progress) Cool Springs, AZ
A detail from a large painting of a mobilgas pump at the Cool Springs Gas Station.



Owl Diner – Lowell, MA
The most diner-enthusiast accommodating establishment I’ve visited. Homefries to die for. A great worcester semi-streamliner.

Palace Diner – Maine
Hit the palace while it was closed, but took pictures, and did the drawing. The owner saw this drawing posted on Roadside, and got in touch with me about using it on their menu. Gave to go ahead, and never heard back after that.

Diner – Winslow, AZ
Across the street from LaPosada. Closed.

Diner – Winslow, AZ
It’s still for sale, all these years later.

Motel- Holbrook, AZ – Painting won 2nd place at a Johns Hopkins art competition.
American Owned. Broken windows.
Celebrating my win.

Yankee Diner – Charlton, MA

Here are some shots I took of the Yankee Diner last April. I was stopped by a Massachusetts State Patrol officer while here, not while I was walking back through the woods, not while I was taking pictures or peering through windows, no, according to the officer, I was stopped for looking suspicious, because I was wearing a long overcoat (it was really cold out) and sunglasses.

The diner was/ is closed, but it’s a nice example of an old Worcester lunch car.


The interior. Please note the axe at the far end.

And here’s something, back in the woods that’s of note- the original neon