Couple to remain owners of luncheonette

AMANDA SABGA/Staff photo. Guests sit for breakfast at the Shawsheen Luncheonette, which will remain under the same ownership of Amy and Bryan Guay after the new owners unexpectedly backed out of their deal.

Customers will be seeing Amy and Bryan Guay's faces behind the counter at the Shawsheen Luncheonette once again, as the duo will continue their legacy owning the diner after the new owners unexpectedly backed out of their deal.

The Shawsheen Luncheonette will reopen its doors on Aug. 1 under the management of a long-time employee and their family, said Amy. It will remain under the couple's ownership.

Amy would not provide the name of the employee taking over as manager.

She said the expected owners backed out of the deal in large because of the hefty, expensive repairs that were required by the town at a change of ownership. The work would cost between $250,000 and $300,000, Amy said.

"I feel that our business is not salable at this point because of the requirements from the town to bring it up to code," she said. "No one is going to put the money and effort in that the town needs to bring the business up to code."

If the diner remains under the Guay's ownership, the major renovations are not required because it would stay in the same hands. Unless the couple is in charge or new owners are grandfathered in, Amy said she doesn't believe there will be a restaurant standing in the center of the historic Shawsheen area.

"I just think that it was more work than they originally thought, and more money that had to be invested," she said.

Director of Public Health Tom Carbone said the work that needs to be done to the diner includes modernizing the grease interceptors, which are used to keep the grease from washing pans and dishes out of the street. He also said the diner needs several hand-washing stations, a sink to wash produce, and a service sink where mop water and the like can be dumped.

"In the food code, every sink has its own use to cut down on cross contamination," Carbone said. "When the luncheonette was opened all those years ago, they likely complied with the code, but as science has prevailed and shown us that having hand sinks easily accessible makes the customers safer, we are going to need them to install those."

As part of the federal food code, Carbone said at a change of ownership, the Health Department is expected to bring an establishment up to today's code — or at least as close as possible.

Some of the major work Carbone noted would need to be done are floor repairs and the replacement of the worn counter surfaces. He could not confirm if the renovations would cost near $300,000, adding that often times it is found that additional work ends up being needed in the renovation process.

The sudden change in ownership, however, will likely be good news to loyal customers, who recently shared heartfelt goodbyes with Amy and Bryan after years of service and memories. Those who recently believed they were enjoying their final plate of bacon and eggs over the counter, will soon be able to return once again.

Though continuing the role as owners of the diner was not included in their future plans, Amy said they are staying positive and hopeful that a deal will be successful some day.

"We are still going to be there, we are still positive, and still hoping that something will work out in someway," she said. "But hopefully the new management team is going to allow us to have a little more time so that we aren't as stressed as we always are. ... We are positive moving forward that this will help release some of the stress we had and always feeling like we had to be there."

Amy recently told The Eagle-Tribune the couple had plans to sell their house in Bradford, as well as all of their belongings that wouldn't fit into their recently purchased RV, and hit the road to travel around America — something she said they never had the chance to do.

Dedicating the past 30 years of their lives to the business has meant no vacations for the couple, and they finally planned to take some well-deserved time to themselves.

Amy said the transition is expected to be smooth as the new manager has worked at the diner for 13 years and is familiar with the ins-and-outs of the business. Amy and Bryan will make daily appearances to assist at the diner like they have for decades, but will also take time to prepare their house to sell and focus on themselves.

The same group of people will be sliding plates of pancakes across tables and greeting customers at the door, as Amy said most of the staff will remain.

"This is a very positive thing for all of us," she said.