Friday, January 15, 2010

Maine Diner Named 2010 Restaurateur of the Year

By Jim Kanak
Staff Columnist
Maine Diner owners Myles and Dick Henry added another acknowledgement to the list they’ve compiled for their restaurant over the past 26 years. The Maine Restaurant Association recently gave the Wells establishment its 2010 Restaurateur of the Year Award. The Henry’s will receive the award at the association’s annual dinner at the Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland on March 30.
“I was shocked,” Myles Henry said, noting that association CEO Richard Grotton had visited the restaurant recently to inform the Henry’s of the award. “He came in with balloons and everything. It was a nice surprise. This is a great award for us to get. I’m thrilled about it.”
The award has been given annually for the past 30 years by the association, with recent winners including the Union Review Lobster Pot in Ellsworth, Slate’s in Hallowell, and Arrow’s in Ogunquit. Grotton said the Maine Diner has long been acknowledged for its quality.
“We have watched them for a long time,” he said. “We watched when they got four and then five million customers and said ‘wow.’ You have to have a really strong game plan to last as long as they have and been as successful. Food fans are fickle.”
The restaurateur award is one of four the association awards annually, along with Chef of the Year. Allied Member, and Lifetime Achievement. “We put out amongst our membership a nomination form asking for the four categories,” said Grotton. “Then a committee reviews the nominations. Generally, one nomination ends up standing out. We cover the gamut of (restaurant types). It’s how well you do what you do and the Henry’s do it very well. You get a measure of the restaurant by the way the help responds. When we went there, they were all out clapping and were pleased for Myles and Dick. It was clear we made a good choice.”
The award culminates a notable few months for the Diner. The Henry’s celebrated their 25th anniversary a couple of years ago and hosted their 5 millionth customer in December 2008. Gov. Jon Baldacci visited recently to acknowledge the diner’s milestones. In addition, the Henry’s will be participating in the New Orleans Food Festival this spring, showcasing their hallmark seafood chowder.
“We’ll be in it annually from now on,” Myles said.
The association is creating a video about the Diner that will be shown the night of the award ceremony. Tickets to the event are $70 and can be ordered online at The ticket price includes a Chef’s reception prior to the diner, the dinner itself, and the ceremony.
The award recognizes more than the Henrys’ 26 years of effort. “It’s a reflection on the restaurant,” said Myles. “It’s an award for the employees and how they do their job. I’m very proud of them.”
Photo caption: (L to R) Myles Henry, Richard Grotton; President, Maine Restaurant Association, Derek Henry, Dick Henry. (Courtesy photo)