Beacon Diner lights go out on Sunday – East Greenwich News
Judy Harris hangs up her apron after running the Beacon Diner for over 25 years and has been a landmark on the South County Trail for most of her life. Harris is a daughter of Vern Knott, who bought the place in 1967. The family lived in the Sun Valley neighborhood of East Greenwich, behind the restaurant. It has always been a family affair.
But Harris’ three children took other career paths, so when someone approached her recently about buying the place, she decided it was time.
“We’ve had our ups and downs – we’ve been through it all,” Harris said Thursday after the morning race. “We made two films here. The first was Wesley Snipes and Cybill Shepard, ‘Hard Luck’ – that was awful, ”she said. The second was the most successful “27 Dresses”, with Katherine Heigl. “It was a lot of fun,” she said. Amateur filmmakers have also used the space over the years.
The restaurant had another moment in the sun when it was featured in Yankee magazine in the 1970s.
It was a busier time for the South County Trail, a main road to… South County, before Route 4 opened in the 1980s. The restaurant was open 6am to 7pm initially. For a few years, it stayed open until the early hours of the morning, to attract the “bar crowd” as Harris called it. But it was fleeting. Breakfast and lunch have been the staple meals for years now.
Harris met her husband at the Beacon. Once, when Harris was in her twenties, she needed a move and the man who would become her husband had a big pickup truck. The rest was 40 years of marriage and three children. She is now a widow, with grandchildren in remote states, another reason to sell the business.
Jessica Harris, the middle Harris kid, came from San Diego just to help out in the last days. She was the least involved of the Harris kids, she said, having last worked there when she was 10. His daughter Sarah lives in Colorado. Harris’s son, Kyle, is still in Rhode Island and works for an auto company, but will be here on Sunday for the last day.
Jeannie Tart of Warwick has been serving tables in the restaurant for 13 years. As a customer was leaving on Thursday, he asked for “one last hug,” before slipping out the door. She gave it away. Tart said she enjoyed the job but had plans, including time down south, and was not unhappy that she could celebrate Christmas without a background job call. .
Harris said her father – who, at 91, fishes for shrimp in Florida, where he lives – wants her to continue running the Beacon until she is 80. “He retired at 65! she said shaking her head. “Do you know how many vacations he took in that first year of retirement? Harris held up 5 fingers.
But then she said, “I have traveled a lot. I was very lucky, I have a very good crew.
What’s the hardest part about shutting down the Beacon Diner? “I will miss the customers,” she said, “visit them and experience their daily life”.
Good luck, Judy. Thanks for the memories.
Enjoying the news you get here on East Greenwich News? As 501-c3 we depend on drive support. Become a supporting donor (monthly) or make a one-time donation! Click the Donate button below or send a check to EG News, 18 Prospect St., East Greenwich, RI 02818. Thank you.