Historic Miss Florence Diner gets ‘a little TLC’ 

  • Matthew Haramut, a local painter and roofer, repaints the letters spelling out “Miss Florence Diner” atop the Florence restaurant Tuesday. Gazette Staff/SARAH CROSBY

  • Lettering atop Miss Florence Diner is shown Nov. 1. —Gazette Staff/SARAH CROSBY

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    Matthew Haramut, a local freelance painter and roofer, repaints the letters spelling out "Miss Florence Diner" atop the Florence restaurant on Nov. 1. Gazette Staff/SARAH CROSBY

Published: 11/3/2016 1:10:49 PM

FLORENCE — Passers-by gazed upward as a painter worked diligently Tuesday atop the iconic Miss Florence Diner.

The 75-year-old restaurant features lettering spelling out its name, but the paint on that lettering has become worn with the passage of time.

“We were just driving into the diner, looking up, and thinking ‘she needs a little freshening up,’” said manager John Zantouliadis, of himself and his father Jimmy Zantouliadis, who co-owns the business with his wife Lia. “She needed a little TLC.”

What followed was a joint effort between the Zantouliadis family, the building’s landlord, and Matthew Haramut, a local painter and roofer.

Haramut is in the midst of the several-week painting project focused mostly on the lettering. John Zantouliadis described the work as “a make-up job.”

Before the work, the paint was peeling, exposing older paint of a different shade underneath, said Haramut.

He said the community response to the restoration work has been overwhelmingly positive.

“As I’m working, people are constantly stopping, and saying ‘Wow, good job,’ ‘I’m so glad you’re doing this,’ ‘Thank you,’” he said. “I think it affects our self esteem when things get run down a bit.”

Zantouliadis, the manager, estimated the project cost between $1,500 and $2,000 – half of which was paid for by the building’s landlord.

For the next few weeks, Haramut will spend his days perched on the roof of the popular diner with a bucket of red paint in hand.

It’s a great place to work when the weather cooperates, he said.

“I’m very comfortable on a roof,” Haramut said. “Sometimes more comfortable on a roof than I am in someone’s living room.”

“And, this is a comfy roof,” he added.

Haramut said for himself, and others who grew up in the area, Miss Florence Diner serves as part of their heritage. It means a lot for him to play a part in restoring the historical landmark. The diner was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. 

“I like the quality of my work and I’m happy I got to do it,” Haramut said.

The diner is open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sarah Crosby can be reached at scrosby@gazettenet.com.

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