A man who has worked in New York City-area restaurant businesses as a general manager and consultant for the past 15 years is currently trying to raise money to move the Red Rose Diner from Main Street in Towanda to Newport, Rhode Island after costs for permitting doubled and the new owner encountered some unforeseen circumstances.
Chris Tunnah had purchased the historic diner car for $65,000, according to a listing of Bradford County property transactions published in The Daily Review on March 16, 2018. Attempts to contact Tunnah about his plans at the time were unsuccessful.
In a posting on the website GoFundMe, Tunnah said it had been his dream to bring a vintage diner to Newport ever since he purchased a small home on the harbor around 10 years ago. His plan was to plant the diner next to a large wood fired pit grill that would act as a summer kitchen for clam bakes and to provide a variety of other New England classics. The diner itself would serve as a soda fountain where sundaes, pies and other sweet treats could be served. During the warmer months he would call it Better Weather, and then shift the name to Sweater Weather during the winter.
“This 1927 Tierney manufactured diner is one of just six diners from the 1920s left in the country that is still in operating condition. At one point there were hundreds of these throughout the northeast. I believe that these diners are part of our cultural history and need to be preserved for later generations. If this diner comes to Rhode Island it will be the oldest diner in the state!” he wrote.
Without the funding, Tunnah feared for the diner’s future given that it is “financially non-viable in its current location having failed several times due to lack of business and population.”
The diner had been restored by previous owner Gordon Tindall, who had purchased the eatery in 1998 and moved it from Stroudsburg to Lancaster County. After he was unable to find a location for it in Lancaster, he moved the diner to Towanda in 2003.
Joseph DuPont purchased the diner in November 2014 and closed it on Aug. 31, 2017.
In addition to the permitting process that proved twice as costly as originally anticipated, due to changes to appease Middletown, Rhode Island officials and neighbors, Tunnah said a radiator failed and flooded the diner and basement. It was not covered by insurance, leaving him with a cleanup and remediation bill of more than $10,000.
“These extra expenses have put my financing in jeopardy, and without your support I may not be able to secure the loan needed to move and re-open this diner! In reality a larger amount would be amazing and would guarantee this project comes to reality, but I wanted to be realistic about how much was possible to be raised. The cost to move the diner is $38,000 alone!” he said.
Tunnah has raised $1,080 of a $15,000 goal since creating the GoFundMe page on Nov. 12, 2018. The page is located at https://www.gofundme.com/save-one-of-last-1920039s-us-diners.