When the Thruway Diner closed several years ago, many residents, including me, mourned the loss of a community institution. Thousands of petitions rolled into City Hall demanding the diner’s preservation, but, of course, the local government can’t dictate which private businesses remain open and which close, and so we could only watch helplessly as the Thruway said good-bye.
Now we have a chance to right a past wrong.
Last night, the City Council signaled its intent to sell publicly-owned land at the southwest corner of the intersection of Weyman Avenue and Main Street to the DeRaffele Manufacturing Company, which proposes to construct a new diner, just across the street from the Thruway’s former location. The traffic islands and access roads at this location will require some reconfiguration and further analysis is required before the deal can be concluded, but it looks entirely workable.
In addition to bringing a new diner to an area with a proven demand for one, this sale will put $600,000 into the City’s coffers at a time when every dollar counts, and will also generate continuing economic benefits from sales tax, property tax, and job creation.
DeRaffele is one of the largest diner manufacturers in the world. If you have eaten in a diner on the eastern seaboard, it was probably built by them. And, as it happens, the company is based in New Rochelle on Palmer Avenue. For Phil DeRaffele, the company’s long-time leader and a New Rochelle resident himself, bringing a diner back to his hometown is more than a business venture, it’s a personal passion, so we can be sure that great pride will be poured into the new diner’s design.
Good news all around.