Northampton train car diner in early steps of a comeback

  • The 1930s train car on Strong Avenue in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF/BRYAN BOWMAN

For the Gazette
Published: 1/26/2018 10:30:28 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The 1930s train car diner on Strong Avenue in Northampton, formerly known as Kathy’s Diner, has sat vacant since June of 2013.

Now, owner Gary Perman of Easthampton hopes to breathe new life into the longtime downtown mainstay, along with Isaac Weiner of South Hadley, who plans to lease the space.

In a permit application filed with the city of Northampton, Weiner said he and business partner Daniel McColgan of Springfield “are renovating the train car diner into a specialty coffee and tea shop with simple made to order breakfast and lunch sandwich options.”

On Thursday, Weiner said that it’s too early to commit to a name for the new business, but he said he’s “really hoping for a spring opening.”

Weiner said he first became involved with the train car after seeing a sign that it was for lease in one of its windows early last year, and decided to contact Perman.

Perman bought the train car from Kathy Tefft in 2013 for $250,000. Tefft owned and operated the diner under the name “Kathy’s” for over 24 years, working full time until the age of 73. Previously, the building had been known as the “Red Lion Diner” and the “Miss Northampton Diner” going back to the 1950s.

Interior renovations to the diner are currently underway, according to Weiner, who said the next step will be the construction of a patio and a ramp to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

This exterior work requires approval of the city’s Central Business Architecture board, and a public hearing on the project is scheduled for Feb. 8.

Weiner stressed that he doesn’t “want to get ahead of the city,” but said he hopes the hearing next month will be the final hurdle before his business can open.

“Our original idea was that we would open in October,” Weiner said. “Obviously that didn’t happen. It’s a challenging building, but also an old and beautiful building.”

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