Diana Gray of Livermore Falls stands Thursday behind a miniature replica of her business, The Lunch Pad restaurant, on Park Street in Livermore Falls. Her parents bought the business in 1986, then sold it to her in 2000. The replica was made by the late Bob Shink of Jay, who was a regular customer. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

LIVERMORE FALLS — After 38 years, Diana Gray has decided to close The Lunch Pad on Park Street where people have gathered for breakfast or lunch, good conversation and plenty of laughs.

The Livermore resident announced the closing last weekend on Facebook. Rising food costs and rising water from the Dec. 18, 2023, rainstorm that flooded the business and a garage filled with personal items played a part in her decision.

“The relationships I developed here — the people — will always be in my heart,” Gray said. “Beautiful memories.”

She bought the restaurant from her her parents, Hilda and the late Bob Hahn, in 2000. The Livermore couple opened it in 1986 as an ice cream store but her mother had an idea of putting on an addition to serve breakfast and lunch. The restaurant was open from about April to October each year.

Gray decided she will not reopen, ending 38 years of working at the business, where her daughters, Shannon and Danielle, and teenagers and others from local communities also were employed.

An in-ground swimming pool on the property was leased to the Livermore Falls Summer Recreation Program to teach children to swim. Gray closed it for a variety of reasons, including rising insurance costs, and had it filled with dirt.


That move paid off in 2020 when COVID-19 struck. She turned the area into an outdoor dining area for customers.

She also added a vegetable garden that supplied items for her menus.

“My employees would pick the veggies,” she said. “We planned the specials around what vegetables were ripe to pick.”

It was way before the concept of farm-to-table became popular, Gray said.

Diana Gray of Livermore stands Thursday in front of a collage of photos of customers who frequented her restaurant, The Lunch Pad, on Park Street in Livermore Falls. She announced last weekend that she has closed the business, partly because of rising prices and flood damage Dec. 18, 2023. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

She set up the restaurant with a country-style flair with red-and-white gingham curtains and tablecloths, and 1950s- or 1960s-style curtains on other side of the dining area. There are displays of frogs, a nod to the restaurant’s name.

The late Bob Shink of Jay, who was a regular at the restaurant, made her a miniature of the restaurant that sits on the counter. She remembers him measuring outside and she didn’t know what he was doing until he brought the miniature in.


“I felt good when I walked in. It made me feel like I was home,” Gray said.

She remembered her daughter, Shannon, now an adult, used to count Swedish Fish when she was 12. The kids would come in with $1 and they would get 100 pieces of penny candy.

Gray liked the creativity of cooking meals she wanted to try.

She coped with rising costs over the years by raising meal prices a little at a time. Twenty-five cents to 50 cents here and there.

But now, the cost of food has gone up dollars at a time.

In April 2021, a vandal tried to set fire to her business, causing $60,000 damage, she said.


Two years later, on Dec. 18, 2023, the brook beside her property overflowed, flooding the restaurant floors and a garage with personal belongings, which were all lost. It was the final straw, she said.

She plans to put the business on the real estate market and hopes someone will buy it and run it as she did.

“The Lunch Pad is big part of me,” she said, thinking about the 38 years she has spent there.

What will she do?

“I plan to live a quiet life, kayaking and hiking,” she said.

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