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Fresh face, fresh start for Hubbard's Emerald Diner

Published: Thu, February 5, 2009 @ 12:00 a.m.


Erika Saadeh of Erika's Emerald Diner

The diner, which reopened its doors Monday, has 23 employees.



HUBBARD — A briefly closed theme restaurant that has been a part of the city’s landscape for years is back in business with a young, new owner looking to make some changes.

Most people driving along Main Street here anytime in the last several years likely noticed the shiny silver, old-fashioned railroad caboose with the neon words “Emerald Diner” displayed across the top.

Most of those people also likely noticed when the 1950s-themed restaurant closed its doors in mid-December.

The restaurant, situated among a framework of restored trains and various antiques, sat idle for more than a month before one employee decided to reopen its doors.

Erika Saadeh, 22, is planning to graduate from Trumbull Business College in the spring, but she entered the business world Monday with the reopening of the restaurant — now called “Erika’s Emerald Diner.”

“I have been working here for about six years, and I have been learning to manage since I was 16. I like being here. I love being here,” she said. “This was my first job, and I am just comfortable here. It was a lot of work getting it opened in a few weeks.”

Saadeh explained her level of comfort and confidence in the business as a successful venture to her father, Michael Saadeh, who helped her purchase the restaurant.

Saadeh said some of the aspects of the restaurant will be changing in the coming months, but many things also will remain the same.

The 1930s-era railroad caboose with the 1950s theme, which serves as the main dining area for the restaurant, will remain intact, complete with the stainless-steel trim and countertop with small stools. The outside antique surroundings, though not a part of the actual restaurant, are still in place as well.

Saadeh said regular customers at the diner need not fear; old favorites such as liver and onions, Italian greens, and the chicken and greens sandwich will still be on the menu. The menu, she said also will include a few new favorites, such as a quarter-pound hotdog, homemade cheese triangles, milkshakes in a list of various flavors, and other tasty treats.

The reopening of the restaurant has meant the continued employment for about 23 workers at the diner. Saadeh rehired all 20 employees working at the diner before it closed and brought on three additional employees.

Saadeh said the winning combination for making the restaurant a continued success despite tough economic times is friendly, fast service and good prices.

“The food really isn’t crazy expensive. Two people can come in and get a meal for about $20. The food and service here are big things,” she said.

To enhance the service aspect, Saadeh said additional changes will be coming to the restaurant’s operations. She said the diner will soon be open on Sunday to accommodate the after-church crowd. There also will be “cruise-ins” featuring antique and classic cars starting in the spring.



1Brian215(13 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Living in Baltimore now, of 'Diner' fame. I'd like to see some diners prosper in Y-town area. It'd be nice to see them pop up to challenge the Bob Evans and Perkins that seem to be so popular there. And if your going to get 2,000+ to eat at Denny's the people are obviously starving for some good food. I wish Erika Saadeh all the luck in the world and hope to visit her diner on my next trip back.

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2paulydel(1428 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

This is a great story especially in this time of economic caos. She is a smart young lady who at sixteen was smart enough to learn the business and then follow up by going to school and will finish with a degree. God for her and may God bless her business and her. When I get back to Ohio I am going to make evey attempt to stop there.

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3bassboy0809cs(17 comments)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

I eat there all the time, it is an awsome restaront and I hope it is even better this time.

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4Larry_Cultrera(1 comment)posted 6 years, 3 months ago

Just to set the record straight, this is not a retired railroad car or a caboose. It is a prefabricated restaurant known as a diner. It was built by the Jerry O'Mahony Dining Car Company of Elizabeth, NJ probably in the late 1930's. It was updated in the late 1940's or early 1950's by the same company when it was brought to Norwich, Connecticut from a previous location. It was combined with an older diner which was used as a kitchen for this one. That is when it received the stainless steel exterior it currently has. It was known as Burt's Diner in Norwich.

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