WILTON — Farmington Diner owner Rachel Jackson-Hodsdon has been hard at work on her plans to restore the Farmington Diner and hopes to open it this spring.
For almost two years, the diner has sat empty in a field off Cemetery Road in East Wilton. A new roof was added last year.
Last January, neighbors came before selectmen to complain of rats in the neighborhood. Wilton's code enforcement officer found no evidence of any rats around the diner or in an old farmhouse on the property owned by Hodsdon and her husband.
Neighbors offered help with the diner project, but after mailing out 32 cards requesting their participation to make it a community project, only two were returned, she said.
That didn't stop her.
While working full time and also writing grants, Hodsdon has hired an architect, procured help with finding a site and has continued to plan for restoring the diner to a 1948 style.
"We're not purists," she said. The style will look like customers are stepping into a 1948 diner or as close as they can get, but it won't be original pieces.
The restaurant, with seating for about 60, will offer breakfast, lunch and occasional dinners, she said. She'll stick to her plan to offer as much local food as she can.
While opening the diner where it is — and perhaps using part of the farmhouse — would financially be the best option, she is considering properties in Wilton and Farmington, she said. Maine Land Consultants in Livermore Falls is working on the site location.
Her architect, John Turk of TTL Architects in Portland, shares her focus on restoring the diner and is excited about the local food movement, she said. He has experience working for Maine Historical Preservation.
Other local people with the Wilton Group have also helped make progress, including Angela Werner, Michael Hoehne and Stacy Damon.
"People who have expertise in certain areas make such a difference," Hodsdon said.
As for the name of the diner, Hodsdon says she'd like to keep it the Farmington Diner regardless of where it ends up.
"It has a lot of history — why give it up," she asked.