New restaurant hailed as ‘an oasis in a food desert’
Seventy-five years ago Silk City Diner number 59 left the factory in Paterson, New Jersey. The 42-seat restaurant—with a stainless steel and cream enamel exterior, traveled to Conowingo, Maryland, about 35 miles from Baltimore. There it served customers for decades. From Maryland it was hauled to Pennsylvania, then Ohio, where was partially restored. it landed in Blue Mountain Lake, NY, in 2017, during a blizzard.
“It’s like an oasis in a food desert,” said owner Tom Warrington on opening day, June 15 of this year. For him and his wife, Betsy Folwell, the intention is to serve visitors and Adirondack residents as had the Lumberjack restaurant, which occupied this site on NY Route 30 since the end of World War II. When the work began in fall 2017, the hamlet had no restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. The time seemed right to launch a roadside eatery that welcomed all customers.
Those original diners were kitchen, dining area and restroom all under one roof, a configuration that would not pass modern health standards. For this project, numerous local contractors have been vital to the restoration and construction, from electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and landscapers to painters, tile installers and others. The pandemic may have slowed work a bit but throughout this year the place has been buzzing to get ready for summer 2021.
At the helm—or in front of the hot line—is chef Darrell Spencer, who is leasing the restaurant. He has been cooking in the region for a decade. His career includes stints at a small hotel in Vieques, Puerto Rico, as well as Catskill resorts, summer camps and ski areas. A native of Connecticut, he is both a Navy and Army vet, and a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.
According to Spencer, “I am so very positive about the diner. I want to make Blue Mountain Lake my home and serve not just traditional diner fare but great dinners, apps and desserts. My team and I are working to create a real destination.” Tuesdays, for example, will feature local music on the lawn and other special events are planned. The season won’t end with Columbus Day, though fall and winter hours are to be determined.
Chef Darrell’s Mountain Diner is open 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with dinner service Tuesday and Wednesdays 4:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. for the month of June. Hours will be extended in July and August. In addition to classic diner seating, there is a large deck with umbrella tables.
True to diner tradition, breakfast is available all day, though Spencer is known for contemporary comfort food like pot roast, turkey, meatloaf, buttermilk fried chicken and glazed salmon. There is a catering menu for feeding a crowd off premises and takeout is available. Special diets are accommodated.
Chef Darrell’s Mountain Diner, a 1946 diner relocated to Blue Mountain Lake. Mary Thill photo