Phoenicia Diner open for business

By Jay Braman Jr.
In the new Phoenicia Diner, it seems like old times.
The diner, which stands alone along side Route 28 in Phoenicia, had been closed for more than a year after husband and wife team Mike Cioffi and Helene Banks purchased it.

A retired scenery and set designer, Mike had been at work inside the place polishing the chrome and shining up the image of the 1960s classic structure.

When they unlocked the doors for the grand opening last Friday it was as if folks had been waiting all year for the chance to return, and each brought three friends.

By Monday Mike and Helene were exhausted because Friday’s grand opening had not yet stopped.
“I thinks it’s the balloons outside,” Mike joked, pointing to the shimmering orbs blowing about out near Route 28. “People just keep coming.”

Standing at the counter as cooks bang the ready bell and sling eggs and bacon and burgers onto plates and into the hands of three or four waitresses, Banks agrees.
Stepping aside to let the servers whirl past with another order, she smiles and adds that she thinks it’s something else.

“People know this is a good place to come eat. This is what we wanted to do.”
She may be right, but then, there’s also the atmosphere.

Unlike some stuffy restaurant, this is a diner. It is fun and loud. On Monday several kids sat at the counter at lunchtime and had a blast coloring placements with crayons. The waitresses seemed to know everyone and sported bright infectious smiles. Lively conversation was being had throughout the nearly full booths that sit next to the trademark walls of glass, giving a full view of Mount Tremper across the way.

Classic. Just like the diner’s new logo, a 1960s American-made, wood-paneled station wagon with all sorts of vacation equipment atop its built in racks. On the road and ready for fun.
So far the Phoenicia Diner only deviates from diner tradition in one way. It is not open 24/7. Those wanting waffles at midnight will need to travel elsewhere for the time being, but if you are hungry between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday, stop by. Check for more details.