There is a small glimmer of hope that New Bedford's former Shawmut Diner could rise like a phoenix from the ashes and serve hungry patrons again.

The famed diner closed in 2014 after 51 years in business on Shawmut Avenue at Hathaway Road. Owners Phil and Celeste Paleologos donated it to the Bristol County Jail and House of Correction as a training facility for rehabilitating inmates.

Fall River's Al Mac's Diner Owner Eyes Former Shawmut Diner
Courtesy Phil & Celeste Paleologos
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Eight years later, the Paleologos' dream has not yet been realized due to a lack of funding and presumably a lack of interest on the part of the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

In response to a recent piece WBSM posted updating the status of the Shawmut Diner project, Fall River businessman and realtor Cliff Ponte stated, "I'd love to buy this and bring it back to life, just like I did with Al Mac's Diner."

Fall River's Al Mac's Diner Owner Eyes Former Shawmut Diner
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Ponte, a former Fall River City Councilor and mayoral candidate, purchased and restored the historic Al Mac's Diner on President Avenue in May 2019. Ponte said the diner "is one of the very few stainless steel diners remaining in Massachusetts."

The Shawmut Diner was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2003.

Fall River's Al Mac's Diner Owner Eyes Former Shawmut Diner
Fall River Community Media via Facebook
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"There are no words to express the uniqueness to run and operate a piece of history," Ponte told me. "Owning and operating a historic diner, and having our customers recognize and appreciate our hard work is rewarding. This diner offers that same unique opportunity."

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"The true appeal here would be to resurrect history and give back to a local community by offering employment opportunities," he said.

Fall River's Al Mac's Diner Owner Eyes Former Shawmut Diner
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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Ponte said he would offer to purchase the diner "100 percent if I could find the land to put it on."

"I would bring it to whatever city would work with us to make this happen," he said. "My goal would be to replicate the same hometown community diner that it once was."

Ponte said "the potential is endless," and that includes a "diner for breakfast and lunch" that "could be a drive-through as well."

Fall River's Al Mac's Diner Owner Eyes Former Shawmut Diner
Barry Richard/Townsquare Media
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He said he "would also welcome the opportunity to work with the Sheriff's Office to have inmates assist in restoring the diner."

As for keeping the Shawmut Diner name, Ponte said he would keep things as original as possible.

"It would certainly be something I would consider," he said. "I wouldn't want to take away much, if any, from the historic components."

Ponte said restoring the Shawmut Diner "would be an investment worth looking into for sure."

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