New ‘Old-Fashioned’ Diner To Open In Wilmington

WILMINGTON, MA — At Monday’s Board of Selectmen Meeting, the public got their first “taste” of Wilmington’s East Coast Diner, a restaurant scheduled to open at the corner of Lowell Street and Woburn Street in 2017.

The restaurant’s proprietor Michael Palmer and Attorney Robert Peterson Sr. were in front of the Selectmen, looking to obtain an all-alcohol license for the diner, located at 203 Lowell Street.

What We Learned About The Diner:

  • The diner was described as “old-fashioned,” single-story diner with neon signs, booths in the windows, and a breakfast counter.
  • The diner will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, 7 days a week.
  • The diner will have a “traditional, east-coast” diner menu, including hot dogs, hamburgers, meatloaf and fried fish.
  • The diner is 5,538 square feet.
  • The diner has 156 indoor seats and 30 patio seats.
  • The diner will have a full bar in the back.  Families will stay at the booths and counter in the front.  There will be TVs are the bar.  Palmer does not anticipate hosting live music and prefers to focus on qualify food, not entertainment.
  • The diner does not have an opening date yet.  Palmer says the restaurant won’t open at least until another 9-12 months.  Palmer & Peterson will be back in front of the Selectmen seeking a common victualer license once the restaurant is built.
  • The diner will be one of two restaurants built on the site at the corner of Lowell Street and Woburn Street. The diner is at the rear of the property, closest to the rear driveway of Textron, before the residential area on Woburn Street begins. Palmer will own both restaurants. No details were provided on the second restaurant.  A third business — referred to as a “dog hotel” — will also open on the site.
  • Palmer has been in the restaurant business for 30 years. He currently owns Stearns & Hills Bistro in Melrose and Fusilli’s Cucina (formerly Sam’s Bistro) in Reading. He once owned the Tanner Tavern in Woburn, which he sold to his brother.  Palmer got his degree from the California Culinary Institute. He grew up in Winchester and lives in Lynnfield.

Palmer’s application for an all-alcohol license received favorable recommendations from the applicable town departments.

Selectmen voted 4-0-1 in favor of granting the license.

Where’s Doggy World?

Selectman Mike McCoy abstained from the vote, arguing the restaurant was “coming in the back door” after the property was rezoned from “General Industrial” to “General Business” at a recent Annual Town Meeting.  McCoy said the voters knew nothing about the proposed restaurants, only the “dog hotel.”

“I’m not happy on how this thing took place,” said McCoy.  “It bothers me when people say one thing and do another…. We got screwed.”

McCoy clarified that he was not angry with Palmer or Peterson, but with a representative from Howland Development, the property’s real estate developer.  McCoy claims the man misrepresented the firm’s intentions in a conversation at McCoy’s former restaurant.

McCoy pointed out there was a simple way that “Doggy World” could have been put in without having to change the district from “General Industrial” to “General Business.”

Attorney Robert Peterson countered that both restaurants, even a third, could have actually been built without any zoning change, as long as the restaurants received the necessary special permits.

“The restaurants have zero to do with the rezoning,” stressed Peterson. “It was the general consensus of the town’s Planning Department that the highest and most effective use of the land [would be achieved] if it was rezoned a ‘general business’ district.”

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