The owner of Super Duper Weenie wants to run a din

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2007/11/20 18:33:38 (permalink)

The owner of Super Duper Weenie wants to run a din

Plan for Fairfield diner served up
Article Last Updated: 11/20/2007 03:52:29 PM EST

FAIRFIELD — The owner of Super Duper Weenie hopes to fulfill a 20-year dream.
Gary Zemola, 42, wants to open his own diner on Duka Avenue, behind Fairfield Lighting and Design on lower Black Rock Turnpike, next year.

The diner, now in storage in Monroe, would be the only mobile diner in Fairfield. It used to be in Pennsylvania, where it operated most recently as "DeCoven Diner" in Duncannon.

"It's a stainless steel beauty. It's got all the stools and booths everyone would remember," Zemola said.

The diner, which he bought on eBay, includes an original terrazzo (crushed marble) floor and "boomerang Formica" tabletops in booths and counters, he said.

Zemola said he's nearly done restoring the old DeCoven Diner and hopes town land-use boards approve his plan to open it as "Zemo's Diner" sometime next year. It was still serving up meals in Pennsylvania as recently as 2003, Zemola said.

"It's like finding a vintage car in a barn. For its age, it's in impeccable shape," Zemola said. "On a scale of one to 10, I give it an eight."

The diner was built in 1954 by the Jerry O'Mahony Diner Co. in Elizabeth, N.J., the same business that built the old Larry's Diner that once stood on the Post Road, Zemola said.

Zemola said Larry's Diner, which was incorporated into the design of a restaurant at 55 Miller Street, where a new dining establishment is slated to open in the next several months, has deteriorated and cannot be rehabilitated.

The owners of the



planned "55 Wine Bar Restaurant," which will replace Mulino's Restaurant at 55 Miller St., plan to remove the historic diner from the property.
"There's nothing left of that. It's unfortunate, but it's pretty much ruined," Zemola said of the Larry's Diner, which opened in Fairfield in the 1920s. But it was moved around the corner in the 1980s, where it was annexed to a larger structure that housed a restaurant initially also known as Larry's Diner and later as the Rattlesnake Bar and Grill.

The 59-seat Zemo's Diner would be installed on adjacent properties at 63 and 75 Duka Ave. owned by Gary Zemola's father, Frank.

The DeCoven Diner was given a few rave reviews on the Internet, and Zemola said he plans to continue its reputation for good food by making as much of the food as he can from scratch.

Zemola dubbed the mobile diner "one of the last of a dying breed," noting most diners are now built on site.

Before he can open Zemo's Diner, Zemola needs the town's Zoning Board of Appeals to grant a waiver of four of the required 19 parking spaces. The ZBA's public hearing on Zemola's request will take place at 3 p.m. Dec. 6 in Sullivan-Independence Hall.

John Fallon, Zemola's lawyer, said Frank Zemola also owns property where Fairfield Lighting and Design is located and that spillover parking from Zemo's could use that 21-space parking lot.

Zemo's Diner would be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and its peak periods — the morning and Sundays — would coincide with times the lighting store is closed, Fallon says in the ZBA application.

If Zemo's Diner wins approval from the ZBA, it also would need approval from the Town Plan and Zoning Commission.

Zemola said that he will continue to operate Super Duper Weenie if his plan to open the diner wins approval from town boards.

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