BUSINESS: Melanie Neily is the new owner of Peterborough Diner

New owner Melanie Neily stands in front of the Peterborough Diner.

New owner Melanie Neily stands in front of the Peterborough Diner. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

Patrons dine inside the Peterborough Diner.

Patrons dine inside the Peterborough Diner. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

The small kitchen has not changed since the diner opened in 1950.

The small kitchen has not changed since the diner opened in 1950. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

The Peterborough Diner kitchen team of Jordan Raguso, right, and Kyle Davis.

The Peterborough Diner kitchen team of Jordan Raguso, right, and Kyle Davis. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

Inside the Peterborough Diner.

Inside the Peterborough Diner. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

The Peterborough Diner celebrates its 75th anniversary this year.

The Peterborough Diner celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

The Peterborough Diner staff, from front, new owner Melanie Neily, Jordan Raguso, Natasha White, Nick Marson, Kyle Davis and Kristal, Greg, Noah and Khai Sherman

The Peterborough Diner staff, from front, new owner Melanie Neily, Jordan Raguso, Natasha White, Nick Marson, Kyle Davis and Kristal, Greg, Noah and Khai Sherman STAFF PHOTO BY CAMERON CASHMAN

By CAMERON CASHMAN

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 07-01-2024 11:24 AM

Modified: 07-11-2024 12:10 PM


The Peterborough Diner is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and recently welcomed a new owner, Melanie Neily.

Neily and her business partners Greg and Krystal Sherwin are committed to maintaining the diner's historic character and its reputation as a staple in the community for its regular customers.

"Peterborough is a small community, and people's expectations are high. They've been coming here since before I was born," Neily said.

Neily and the Sherwins said that they didn't have plans to make any drastic changes to the building at 10 Depot St., the menu or the diner’s day-to-day operations.

"We want to celebrate the diner for what it is. It's 75 years old. The kitchen is a tight space. Nothing's changed there functionally for 75 years," Greg said. "We want to allow people to have a positive experience coming to such a unique setting."

According to Neily, the Peterborough Diner is one out of roughly 1,000 train-car-style diners that were produced by the Worcester Lunch Car Company until the mid-1950s. Each diner car was assigned a number, and it has become common for tourists to track down and photograph all of the diners that still exist today. The Peterborough Diner is Worcester Lunch Car No. 827.

The diner's origins trace back to the 1930s, when Frank and Dora Ryan moved their Grove Street restaurant to a used wooden diner building in Depot Square. The old diner was sold to Milton Fontaine in 1946, who eventually had the dining car made by the Worcester Dining Car Company. The car was installed in its current location in 1950, and is noteworthy for being the first of the Worcester Dining Car Company's diners to use a green color scheme.

Patrick Healey had run the diner since 2003. Talks to pass ownership of the diner onto Neily and the Sherwins began in February, and were only just recently finalized. Neily, who moved to Peterborough from Litchfield in September 2023, had recently lost her job in the education technology industry and found herself wanting to go back into the restaurant business after many years away from it.

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"My background in the restaurant industry goes back a long time. From 15 all the way through college, I worked at seven different restaurants in different capacities," Neily said. "I like to joke that was all pre-children, pre-life."

After losing her previous job, she found herself interested in the diner.

"You know how it goes. I kept walking by this diner, and I found out it was for sale. That was back in February." Neily said. "Greg and Krystal are real estate brokers, and they were the first people I asked to represent me. The response has been amazing so far. The staff is amazing. They're welcoming us with opening arms, and we're so grateful to learn from them. I can't go a shift without getting introduced to someone new. The staff introduces me to everyone that walks in. They all have such wonderful history and stories about the diner. So far, so good."