The interior of the Miss Bellows Falls Diner.
Courtesy photo
The interior of the Miss Bellows Falls Diner.
Town and Village

RFPL hosts meetings on rebirth of Miss Bellows Falls Diner

BELLOWS FALLS — Born during World War II, a beloved hometown Vermont institution, Worcester Lunch Car #771, a.k.a., the Miss Bellows Falls Diner, is coming back to life.

Diners have been a New England fixture for more than a century. Many of these were manufactured by the Worcester Lunch Car Company. In early 1942, the 32-seat Miss Bellows Falls arrived in town, replacing a smaller diner on site. It is a classic example of a World War II-era diner, with a porcelain enamel facade proudly proclaiming its name between iconic panels advertising "booth service." On the inside, oak booths with Formica tabletops provide seating for families, along with stools running the length of a marble countertop.

In 1983, the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized the importance of The Miss Bellows Falls by making it only the second diner to be listed on the National Register. After 40 more years of nearly continual use, the diner retains almost all of its original fixtures and furnishings.

A succession of owners kept the diner alive until the COVID-19 pandemic began. In 2020, the building was shuttered and three years later, had fallen into disrepair. Enter Rockingham for Progress, a nonprofit formed in 2016 to promote progressive economic development, an appreciation of the historic and cultural value of Bellows Falls, and citizen participation in our local democratic processes.

Undertaking the challenge of restoring The Miss Bellows Falls Diner to its original working condition is being done in consultation with historic diner expert, Richard J. S. Gutman, and with the support of a $100,000 Paul Bruhn grant from the Preservation Trust of Vermont.

Now that the diner purchase by Rockingham for Progress has been completed, a series of informational programs about the project will be held at the Rockingham Free Public Library, 65 Westminster St., beginning Thursday, July 27. The 7 p.m. public events are free and will be held in the third-floor function room.

Registration is not necessary, and the room is accessible via elevator. Programs will be recorded and made available for later viewing. The program schedule is as follows:

• Thursday, July 27 – Rockingham for Progress and the Miss Bellows Falls Diner: Why has a local volunteer group taken on the project of renovating and restoring an historic 32-seat diner? How do we plan to keep Miss Bellows Falls on the tax rolls and able to survive the challenges of the modern food service industry? Meet the team, swap ideas, and help us envision the future.

• Tuesday, Sept. 19 – Diner History and the history of the Miss Bellows Falls Diner: A presentation and slide show by diner expert Gutman on the history of the lunch cart, how it evolved into the diner, and how the Miss Bellows Falls fits into that larger history.

• Thursday, Nov. 9 – Tales from the Diner: Charlie Jarras, host of Travels With Charlie on FACT-TV, owned the Miss Bellows Falls Diner from 1990 to 2003. He will bring an evening of stories and anecdotes from employees and customers alike. Come to hear, and share, a story.

For more information, visit

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