Friday, December 19, 2008

A Perfect Gift for Christmas, Maine Diner Hits Two Major Milestones

By Magen Petit
Staff Columnist

Despite a time of hardship and an economic meltdown, Governor John Baldacci helped the Maine Diner, located on Route 1 in Wells, celebrate its 25th anniversary as well as its five millionth customer on Wednesday morning.
“To have our five millionth customer while we are celebrating 25 years of business is pretty amazing,” said Myles Henry, co-owner of Maine Diner with his brother, Dick. “Dick and I never fathomed it would be this way when we first opened.”
What a wonderful surprise it was for South Berwick residents Dick Dionne and wife of 49 years, Dede, to become the Diner’s five millionth customer. The two were without power since last Friday and finally regained it Tuesday night due to last week’s ice storm.
“It was a complete surprise,” said a very thrilled Dede. “Someone came out to greet us and I thought maybe we parked in the wrong parking spot! This really makes it though, because we had to throw out a lot of food [with the power outage]...”
Upon walking through the doors of the Maine Diner, the Dionne’s were instructed to pick a name from a box for the month-long drawing of a $1,000 travel voucher from AAA of New England. Dave Randall, Jr. of Wells was the lucky winner.
The Dionne’s received a big prize packet from different sponsors of the event. Pepsi donated a snowboard, the Front Porch Restaurant donated a $100 gift certificate, Shield’s Meats and Produce and Video Creations each donated a $50 gift certificate, both New England Coffee and Remember the Maine Gifts donated gift baskets, US Foodservice donated a spiral cut ham, PFG Northcenter donated a turkey breast, Downeast Flowers donated a floral centerpiece, and Café Lafayette donated a $25 gift certificate.
When Gov. Baldacci arrived for the special event, he expressed his gratitude toward Myles and Dick.
“I think it’s wonderful what you guys are doing and I love your spirit,” said Gov. Baldacci. “It’s good food and reasonable prices. I congratulate you guys, this is terrific!”
Myles is astonished by the Diner’s success and being able to celebrate the five millionth customer.
“I’m amazed we’ve served that many people in a small building,” said Myles. “We are consistent. We have good food, family recipes, and we retain all of our employees. We take care of them and they get benefits. They like working here and they get treated well.”
The family-owned restaurant opened its doors for business in 1983 with the mission of “serving the tastiest home-cooked meals made from family recipes at a good price with the friendliest staff available,” according to a recent press release.
The Diner has bragging rights as it’s been featured on NBC’s Today Show and The Phantom Gourmet.
“Twelve years ago we hit our first millionth customer and just four years later we hit our second millionth,” explained Myles. “We’ve averaged a million customers every three-and-a-half years since then.”
Gov. Baldacci thinks the Maine Diner is a good representation of the spirit of Maine.
“What you’ve done at the Diner, how you treat your employees, help each other out, and are active in the community is the backbone of the state of Maine,” said Gov. Baldacci.
This is the Remember the Maine Gift Shoppe Manager Kristin Johnson’s second millionth celebration at the Diner.
“I think it’s incredible in one year’s time we are celebrating a 25th anniversary and five millionth customer,” said Johnson. “I’m proud to be part of it. It’s a nice thing for Gov. Baldacci to recognize a small business. I’m astounded! I even rearranged for an extra day of daycare so I could be here!”
Congratulations Maine Diner on a successful 25 years and on your five millionth customer!

Photo caption:
Dick (left) and Myles Henry (right) stand with Gov. Baldacci (center) as the Maine Diner celebrates 25 years. (Weekly Sentinel photo)