Once the memories of moving Moondance from NYC to Wyoming had slightly faded, I decided it was time to ask once again that Vince become more involved with the reconstruction… (which in itself is an irony as he has put in a lot of hours helping finance this project as well as putting up with any stresses I may be having and feel he needs to be privy to). So be it; the question as to how to incorporate the original glass block into the reconstruction and our new “moon room” addition. As indicated in the Bushbaum editorial by Frederic Schwartz, “The Mechanics of Taste”, glass block was a frequent and interesting feature in many of Bushbaum’s projects. We felt it would have a welcome place in the Moondance once again and Vince came up with the idea to create a suddle separation of space using glass block. Only witnessing the process of laying glass block once by an experienced mason, he started with less confidence than he was comfortable with. The fact that he only had small sperts of time alotted by his regular job hauling water for the energy industry in La Barge, made this project seem to take longer. Yet with suprising ease he created a unique and defining atmosphere in the Diner; block by block. Our son Mathiew also devoted some of his time to assist his Dad. Once the glass block wall was complete I wasted no time in asking for a smaller version to be a support base for the Crosley Jukebox. He obliged. It is a wonderful feature and I am so proud that he stepped up to the task… he’ll have a seat reserved just for him at Moondance!
Archive for the ‘Restoration’ Category
Note to self…. “What to do when your commercial kitchen Hood arrives and it is bigger than the kitchen.” I have decided that when facing new challenges with this project,Moondance Diner, it is best to remember the goals we set out to satisfy. This takes some focus off of the immediate hurdle and keep those whom are necessary to the construction’s completion somewhat aloof. Somewhat similiar to the “elephant in the room” idea although ours is fairly static, stainless and without giant ears and a trunk. (This is likely my perception ONLY). All kidding aside, our commercial kitchen Hood could be the cadillac of hoods…. I guess I should have planned it first and the remaining kitchen layout second. I am learning a lot about things I never evisioned myself ever even being exposed to. Fortunately for me, all of the contractors for Team Moondance have been very flexible about the changing layout and have skillfully accomodated for the alternatives. After some re-configurations of the roof and combined ingenuity of GC Travis Elliott and HVAC from Evanston, the Hood has integrated rather nicely with the other appliances. Of course as with all other aspects of the project, meeting State regulations is at the forefront. There are a few finishing touches to make and “walla” it will be a smooth operator. Travis has considered fashioning the Hood’s additon on the kitchen roof to resemble a freight train. The possiblities for creativty are never short.
We’ve been so rapped up in construction that we forgot to let you know about it! The past couple of months have been a whirlwind of activity. It may seem as though not much has changed at the diner, but once you step inside you can really see it coming together. Travis Elliott was hired in September to oversee the numerous subcontractors we needed to get the diner finished and to lend his craftsmanship in finish carpentry. Travis’ dad, Monte Elliott, has spent the last few weeks lending a helping hand in the finish work. The awning was constructed over the handicap ramp at the back of the diner and the handicap parking space was poured. The gorgeous metal sign by John Dickie was installed. The tile floor, formica wainscot and diamond panels have been installed in the original diner space. The custom countertop and table tops were installed yesterday. The metal siding with the graffiti from the original diner was used on one wall in the bathroom and the wainscot for the moon room addition. Vince is installing a glass block wall which defines the original diner space from the moon room. Our refrigeration system was installed and the electrician and mechanical system installers are finishing up. We had water filtration system installed to provide clean, tasty water for our customers. We have been working diligently to meet all the building codes. One of the code requirements is a hood system installed over the appliances in the kitchen. This hood system turned out to be a massive unit requiring some additional construction for support and access. A company from
Part of our goal with Moondance Diner from the beginning was to re-store/re-construct the integrity of the structure while incorporating as many of the original components (asthetic or otherwise) as possible. When we removed the stainless steel siding from Moondance to re-store and repair the framework for the walls; we discussed how we could use it to re-side the Diner once that point in time arrived. Prior to re-locating the Moondance Diner; the riggin’ company in NYC had to remove it from the sidewalk at it’s location in SoHo. This unveiled a 1 foot portion a long the entire bottom of the Diner that was not sided with stainless. We determined that it would be better to re-side the Moondance with new siding rather than trying to patch together new and old siding to create a ”seamless, shiny and weather-worthy exterior”. We found a company in SLC that could manufacture siding that resembled the original steel and have kept the characteristically scarred siding to include inside the Diner in some very creative ways. Ofcourse this is one of the many surprises we hope to keep under wraps until our opening.
Don Hacklin and Shylo Jenkins withstood the hot July temperatures to cut & custom fit the stainless steel trim for the doors and windows and some of the sign housing. Once the trim had been secured each piece of siding was attached. This process meant handling the super-hot stainless not to mention how it’s bright reflection created additional challenges those few days. I do have to say that their efforts are certainly worth it. This is one of the final exterior elements that defines Moondance Diner and its family of classic stainless eateries. We are awaiting a few additional pieces of trim to finish the south side…. so it may be “hot to handle” part deux. The sign also got it’s crowning glory as it was capped with stainless trim; this finishing touch were the efforts of Don Hacklin and Walter “Bo” Bohannon.
Upon the Diner’s quiet Wyoming reception….. we planned what elements to include in addition to the Moondance Diner itself in order to facilitate quality food and service. One of course was a commercial kitchen addition and the other was outdoor seating…. keeping in mind the warm Wyoming summers and beatiful autumn evenings. After sketching and re-sketching some ideas I came up with a concrete patio. “I think it should be a half circle; moon-shaped?; enough room for some small tables, benches, possibly a band, grill…..” my mind stretched with the possiblities. This patio would mean extra seating and a place for fun events the Moondance will have the opportunity to host.
A few weeks before scheduling the concrete pour we tossed some ideas around as to how to make it a unique feature; possibly incorporating stamping or colors? Our G.C. Don Hacklin thought of a friend whom he’d worked with in California whom may want to come to Wyoming to help form a few design elements that could be poured with concrete dyed with colors of our choosing. Vince spent a morning over at the Moondance to help lay-out a moons and stars pattern to be formed then poured. Don’s friend Jake made the journey to La Barge for a week and formed and assisted with the pour. It was interesting to see the design take shape. This will be a much enjoyed aspect of Dining at the Moondance! Vince asked that plans for a natural gas heating element be included so that one can enjoy the patio while sipping cider ;a truly divine scenario for a crisp October evening.
Our kitchen addition arrived in great spirits…. a long trip from Kansas was not quite the journey Moondance took last August. We worked with a company in Riverton Wyoming to design a 16×70 structure to serve as a commercial kitchen for Moondance Diner. One may be puzzled by its size. Yet after careful consideration (and knowledge of how quickly I can fill empty space with furniture and appliances) I decided that storage would be crucial. Plans for walk-ins and plenty of dry storage meant the ability to keep customers satisfied and an uncompromised till; eliminating the tempatation to use money from the till to re-stock items we’ve run short on because of inadequate storage! I have done some research about restaurants and storage may not ever be enough. We have an office area, baking center, chef’s nest, warewashing, utilities, and finally a roomy restroom one will find clean enough to wash their hands in! (a little bantor as to the cleanliness of some public restrooms) We have some elements to add to it’s interior to meet commercial codes. It will be a great day when it is complete so we can begin moving in applicances we have been storing since December of 2007. I have grand plans for this kitchen…. it is where the great food begins.
Once the addition arrived it had to be craned onto it’s already poured foundation (this was planned and poured back in February). A local crane operator from Mountain States in Big Piney did an excellent job of lifting the addition and setting it….. this was another of many special moments for me. I was able to take video of this event as well as a local couple here in La Barge that took an interest in it that day. They have since given me a copy of the video…. capturing this special marriage between buildings. ”You complete me?” Ring a bell. Okay that’s cliche but appropriate. Some finish work by Hack’s Construction and the buildings will be united; by construction standards more importantly.
No matter what season or time of day…. the view from Moondance Diner will be exceptional. In addition to the signature barrel roof; the amount of windows at Moondance Diner was another important feature. Of course one’s view here in La Barge is completely different than one’s was as the Diner was home in downtown Manhattan last summer…. we hope to accomplish some similarity by recreating a familiar scene looking into Moondance Diner. Locals sipping coffee, workers enjoying a hot breakfast and a hearty “lunch to go”. Possibly some our most recently made friends from New York and abroad who have made their way along 189 just to say ”best of luck”. Maybe there will also be students stopping by after school for yummy ice cream specialty or newlyweds sharing a great moment over a divine dinner!
Using several of the original window frames, a Green River Glass Company was on board with the installation of the the glass. We added a window in our Moon Room addition of the Diner. There are 3 doors… one door allows access to our back patio, the front door facing HWY 189 is a main entrance/exit and finally the third glass door on the south side of the Diner was re-born. At one time this door was operable at the Moondance in SoHo; yet last summer when we moved the Diner here to Wyoming it was framed in to appear as a window. After removing some siding we discovered it’s true identity! Ironically along the west wall of the Diner we also discovered a couple of ”hidden windows” which we decided to leave out of the restoration because that wall will be again covered in the classic ”cushioned” stainless.
We plan to use a couple of the original glass (painted with the bright yellow moon and logo as was remembered last July in Manhattan) as an additional window on the south/west side of our kitchen addition.
As I think about last summer and our concerns about re-locating the Moondance Diner; one of the considerations was how to break down the notably large sign and bring it back with the Diner. After discussing options with the moving crew (my husband and father), we determined it would be best to store it inside the Diner. The riggin’ crew made this disassembly their first task….. (of course after the first 200 tasks of permits and planning were checked off). We knew the importance of this sign and it’s significance to in Vince’s selection that day when viewing the American Diner Museum website for possible Diners we could afford to re-locate. It wasn’t until well after our efforts did we begin to realize it’s humble celebrity roots in movies and other media. After Moondance arrived in Wyoming; stripped of it’s grand sign and ecclectic NYC identity (geographically speaking), we realized that the successful move of the Diner “structure” was only the beginning. As Moondance Diner’s newest caretakers we couldn’t wait to get to raise the sign once more; a well-deserved tribute to it’s NYC historical roots. We are hopeful that it’s newest role as a beacon for locals and travelers in the great state of Wyoming will become just as significant.
Vince and Don Hacklin spent an afternoon laying the sign out and putting it back together like a puzzle. The sheet metal still bears the shadow of each word that once rose above the hussle and bussle of 6th and Grand in Manhattan. Don custom-framed the housing for the sign which was planned in the design of the barrel roof .( Wind and weather were taken into consideration as the original wood frame from NYC was not salvageable.) A day and 1/2 later the team started the process of attaching the sheets metal of the sign to the roof and the Diner’s nostalgic identity began to resurface. Vince and I attached some of the letters: EAT, DINER and the COFFEE CUP with it’s tell-tale STARS. The interest once more was peaked as passers-by commented on their first look at the sign since it had been removed in NYC last August. We have decided the MOONDANCE letters will be put on last…. along with the rotating moon. Somewhat of a ribbon-cutting perhaps?
After consulting with our G.C., Don Hacklin, Vince and I agreed that one of the most important design features for Moondance is the unmistakable barrel roof. He recommended Supreme Building Supply in Bear River, Wyoming to take the unique challenge of designing and constructing this classic diner feature in compliance with our state codes. It wasn’t long before the computer-generated design was faxed our way and manufacturing of each individual truss commenced . It was very fascinating to see the roof take shape as each individual truss assembled similiarly to a line of cadets ready for command. The unison and unqiue shape caught the eyes of passers-by as well.
Jeff Gearino and the Casper Star Tribune crew recently visited Labarge to catch up on progress of the Moondance. Check out the two stories that appeared in the Casper Star Tribune today and a web video that accompanied them.
Moondance Rises - Casper Sar Tribune, March 3, 2008
Menu Remains Under Wraps - Casper Star Tribune, March 3, 2008
Moondance Diner Update - Video of construction site, moondance sign in storage, and interview with Cheryl, March 3, 2008