Once in a Blue Moon, a venerable old restaurant, look for someone else to flip the pancakes and burgers


“You have the outdoor setting – that old restaurant feel,” Paul Bunker, 42, told me the other morning after finishing his breakfast during a break after installing new water pipes for the city. .

“You can walk past this place without any prior knowledge and say, ‘This is a place I want to go to have breakfast. “Just by the outward appearance of it.”


Welcome to the Blue Moon Diner, a vintage example of the dining cars produced by the former Worcester Lunch Car Company, a venue of 14 vinyl-covered stools, five cabins, two-tone tile floors – and something else:

A big thick slice of Americana.

Do not hold the mayonnaise.

It has been Mama Love’s domain for 21 years now, where she’s presiding over the parade of hungry clients – lawyers and laborers, doctors and mail carriers – who walk through doors like clockwork for a home-cooked meal and a quick dose of neighborhood news. .

And these days “Mama Love” is the news.

Jamie Floyd – she’s the “mom” who owns this place – is ready to hang up her apron.

Jamie Floyd chatted with customer Alan LeBlanc as he picked up a takeout order. After 21 years as the owner of the Blue Moon Diner, Floyd is ready to sell the famous institution.Lane Turner / Globe Staff

“I wonder how I’m going to feel without this huge rush all the time,” she told me between orders the other day. “I know I’m ready to slow down. I know it well. I have mixed feelings. ”

The same goes for its loyal patrons who have eagerly and religiously entered the classic Blue Moon restaurant for years, ordering spinach omelets, corned beef hash and the Chubby Checker special: two eggs of any style with ham, bacon or sausage.

“I told her I’m going to have to come over to her house for breakfast twice a week,” said Mark Stevens, 65, a retired machinist who grew up in Lynn and moved here three years ago. .

“Everyone deserves to retire someday, you know? Stevens said. “But one of the main reasons this place is so successful is just because of its personality. She is very outgoing, friendly. A woman arrives with a baby and Jamie doesn’t wait for a waitress to come and greet her. She sees it and says, “Can I get your child a high chair or a booster seat?” ” Things like that.”

Things like that.

Intangible things. Second nature. A marbled work ethic in every corner of this tiny, main street location in Gardner.

At the counter, during a brief break from his chores behind the counter, Floyd remembers how it all started.

She is a 1984 graduate of Gardner High School, the middle child and the only daughter born to a mother who worked as an accountant and a father who died young.

She worked at a local restaurant for 15 years before it closed, then looked for the sequel.

As it turns out, this classic example of a dining car – like those once could be found on the main streets of large and mid-sized New England towns, catering to travelers when the freeways were new and the automobiles had large fenders and bench seats – was just the ticket to entrepreneurship.

She works the grill. She goes shopping. She pays the bills. She orders the supplies.

Who trains the staff? She does.

“What have I learned? She asked. “Work hard. Be honest. Be fair. Communicate well. You can’t run a business without having these qualities.”

And you can’t predict the unexpected. Like a pandemic that came unexpectedly and then reorganized life everywhere, including at its lunch counter.

“Last year, with COVID, was the worst year for business, life and stress,” she said.

“But it was the biggest and the best year to see people’s compassion and humanity. Oh, huge. It can make me cry right now. Everyone who came to this place was amazing. ”


That’s the precise word people who sit at his counter and crowd into his booths use to describe what Jamie Floyd served in this place.

“I think his management of this place has been wonderful,” said Peter Sargent, a 66-year-old retired lawyer who teaches music at a school in Derry, NH. this place means to Gardner.

“She knows a lot of people by name and that’s a wonderful thing,” Sargent said. “This is the essence of the community. I hope whoever gets her after her, or whoever runs the business after her, manages her as well and as friendly as she has. ”

The restaurant is on the market for $ 300,000. And, Floyd said, there were some nibbles.

She is looking for someone – or a team – to carry on the tradition.

“You don’t have to change what isn’t broken,” she said. “People don’t want – and I think I’ve heard them tell you that – they don’t want change. They want their food to be served the same way. There are a lot of things you can venture into. But don’t change what’s not broken. ”

It’s easy to see what’s not broken.

Susan Maki leaves after breakfast.  The Blue Moon Diner is located on Main Street in Gardner.
Susan Maki leaves after breakfast. The Blue Moon Diner is located on Main Street in Gardner.Lane Turner / Globe Staff

It is there in the warm mahogany woodwork.

He is there in the old jukebox with his proposals like “Don’t be Cruel” by Elvis Presley.

It’s there on the menu, where little red and white plastic letters are laid out on black felt to announce specials like this:

“Chubby checker. 2 eggs of your choice. Ham, bacon or sausage. $ 4.25.”

Soon someone else will serve him.

But, for now, so briefly, it’s still Jamie Floyd’s place.

“She’s just a very generous person,” said Scott Tourtellot, a 72-year-old retired letter carrier. “If anyone needs help, she is more than willing to help.”

Outside, an American flag flies in the morning breeze. Inside, two hot dogs are for sale for $ 5.95. A Ruben costs $ 9.25.

“I just turned 55 and want a change,” said Floyd, “not working all the time. I recommend the next person be two people.

“I have people who sit here every day – people for whom I have served and served for 36 years,” she said. ” It is special. There is history here. Long roots.

“I used to make spaghetti sauce and I can do it. We used to call her “Mama Love”. And it stuck. And he stayed. A long time ago, I did it just for fun. And the ‘Mama Love’ part stuck. That’s where he came from a million years ago.

“But now it just means love. This is my nickname.”

And – at the end of the day – that’s also his legacy.

Thomas Farragher is a columnist for The Globe. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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