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Vintage diner to join attractions in Larkin District

Coming soon to the Larkin District: a vintage diner.

Howard Zemsky’s Larkin Development Group is buying the Newark Diner outside of Rochester from longtime owners Jim and Betty McBride, and plans to relocate it to the Buffalo neighborhood sometime in 2014 to add to the area’s dining spots.

The vintage Sterling-brand diner was manufactured in the 1930s by the J.B. Judkins Co. in Merrimac, Mass., and has been at its current location since 1937. It was shipped there and assembled on site, and has been owned by the McBrides since 1985.

Zemsky said plans call for relocating it first to the Cleveland area, where a firm called Diversified Diners will oversee a top-to-bottom historic restoration over a six-month period. It will then be installed in the Larkin District, “at a location and date to be determined,” he said, adding that “our initial thinking” would put the diner on the property that borders Seneca, Exchange and Smith streets.

“We will make a final determination in the months ahead,” he said. “It will reopen as a diner under a new name to be determined.”

In all, the purchase, relocation and rehab work will cost about $200,000, and Zemsky said the development group will probably add an annex with a basement for storage, a new kitchen and bathrooms at an additional cost.

The new diner would add to existing eating options in the Larkin District that already include Square 1 Sandwiches, the Filling Station and the Larkin Cafe. The developer is also converting the former Hydraulic Hotel – formerly the Swan Lounge – into a “gastropub.”

Zemsky said he “happened upon the diner” while on a trip to Newark, N.Y., when Larkin Development purchased the Air Stream Camper that has been rehabilitated and converted into the home of Square 1 Sandwiches in Larkin Square, run by Zemsky’s son, Harry. He said it’s “not your stereotypical 50s ‘Happy Days’ style diner,” but is smaller, with more wood and porcelain, rather than metal.

“The materials are warmer and the scale is more intimate,” he said. “That’s what I liked about it from the get-go.”