S. Jon Özbek, Restoration Award, Poirier's Diner
When Providence developer Jon Özbek purchased Poirier’s Diner in 2002, he had no idea it would be over ten years before the historic diner would reopen. Manufactured by the Kullman Dining Car Company of Harrison, New Jersey, Joseph A. Poirier brought the stainless steel diner to Atwells Avenue in 1947 – where it remained an active restaurant under a variety of names until 2002 when several buildings, including the diner, in the surrounding Eagle Square industrial complex were slated for demolition to allow for a major redevelopment.
After rescuing the diner from certain demolition, Özbek stored it behind Loie Fuller’s on Westminster St., where it remained for eight years during the search for a new site. It was during this time in storage that a number of components were stolen, meaning that several of the diner’s original features would have to be recreated. This theft would require Messrs. English, Jackson and Wood to use only the few available historic photographs as a guide for the drawing, specifying, fabricating and installation of numerous pieces of the Streamline Deco diner.
In 2010, Özbek found a permanent home for the diner at 1380 Westminster – the site of an auto repair shop. The diner was attached to the building, with the former garage acting as extra seating for the diner. One of the first steps in the diner’s rehabilitation was the preparation of a National Register of Historic Places Nomination by Kim Smith Barnett of the Providence Revolving Fund. Having the diner on the National Register enabled Özbek to access both Rhode Island and Federal Historic Tax Credits. As the restoration of the diner continued, every proposed replacement component required careful review by the Rhode Island Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission.
Completed in 2013, the diner has quickly reestablished itself as a culinary landmark on the West Side. Mr. Özbek would like to thank Christopher Wood and Corey Jackson at MODA - Modern Order Design & Artistry, Kim Smith Barnett and the Providence Revolving Fund, Bill English of Custom Metal Fabricating, Inc., and Rachel Barrett at BankRI Commercial Real Estate.