New Bedford’s Shawmut Diner For Sale
After 32 years, Phil and Celeste Paleologos have decided to hang up the apron. “We’re 63 years old, Celeste,” says Phil, “What? Are we going to do this for the rest of our lives?” he asks his wife. Running one of New Bedford’s most popular breakfast spots is not easy. It’s dominated their lives since they bought the vintage 1954 Shawmut Diner from its original owner, Mary Mello.
Since then, customers at the diner have come back time and time again every bit as much for the hugs and smiles from Phil and Celeste as for the delicious cheese rolls, pancakes and bacon. If you’ve ever been to the diner, you know the staff has very little turnover. They are fixtures at the diner, like the furniture.
The Shawmut Diner is quintessential “New Bedford”. If you’re shooting a movie in New Bedford…you include scenes at the Shawmut Diner (see 2002′s “Passionada”). If you’re running for US Senate…you stop by for coffee and conversation (Scott Brown, pictured right). If you’re hosting a nationally syndicated morning radio show originating from the Whaling City, you tuck a fully functioning studio in the corner and talk to the nation in between flipping pancakes (Phil, “America, Good Morning”).
What does it feel like to be selling the business after all these years? Phil says it’s a lot like selling your home. “As you start going through your things you just keep stumbling onto memory after memory. We’ve watched our kids grow up here. It’s very emotional.” It wasn’t a decision that was an easy one to make. Phil and Celeste say they’ve been considering this move for years, but feel like selling now is the right time.
What will happen to the diner?
One of two things, says Phil. Option 1: It will be sold to an owner/operator who wants to continue the long history of the Shawmut Diner. Option 2: It will be sold to a developer who is interested in the prime location upon which the diner sits. If that is the case, Paleologos says he’ll move the diner to a new location, preferably within the New Bedford city limits. Phil says he’d prefer to sell the business outright to someone who will keep the diner up and running, but if they end up moving the diner to another location, he and his wife would assume a significantly reduced role in the day to day operations. “Either way the diner will remain open to the public and no one on the Shawmut Diner staff”, who Phil refers to as his family, “will lose their jobs.”
Speaking of family, I asked Phil about his three kids…they didn’t want to take over the business? “None of them had any interest,” said Phil. “This is a business you have to dedicate your life to in order to be successful,” he said. “My kids just have other things that drive them…they have their own lives.”