Archive for January, 2008

New York Architect Lends A Helping Hand

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Finally got the opportunity to speak to Frederic Schwartz on the phone last week.  He is helping to locate the Moondance Diner blueprints which were an integral part in the Alan Bushbaum interior done in 1983.  He refers to himself as Fred and has been the “breath of fresh air” once before during the “cease order” issued by the City of New York while Vince and my Dad, Kent awaited the removal of Moondance Diner from the New York sidewalk.  Not certain how his words of encouragment (or possibly a phone call) lifted the “cease order” but soon after a brief conversation on site in Manhattan the work resumed and the rest is New York History! Now he has once again (dawning an ever so modest cape) offered to assist us in finding the sketches that will inevitably reveal some truths about Moondance Diner and it’s hidden amenities. This will be a new beginning for Moondance Diner; although we have to give credit to its very substantial  roots. This is so well said in the quote “Remember, the mightiest oak was once a little nut that held its ground.” Veronica

Three Cheers For Fred!

If These Diner Walls Could Talk

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Team Moondance ended the last week (January 18th) with a well-needed sense of accomplishment. After the snow damage to the roof and the front wall of the Moondance, we were able to sift through, salvage, and remove materials from the original structure. Next step… plan D (for Destination Diner!) This process was difficult because we had the best of intentions to maintain the original Diner structure during the re-construction phase.  As it was, the aged structure made a great effort (after a little research this could be close to 90 years!). We are pleased to have the majority of the most integral orginal materials to include in the re-furbished Moondance. Some of these materials will be displayed and included in  a most creative way. Pieces that we were unable to salvage were taken to our family’s private property to continue to be carefully looked over for any historical significance. This task was undertaken by Shylo (fortunately with CDL in tow) and we thank her for her help with this part of the project last week. Her smile shown brightly despite any gremlins that may have crossed her path.  Speaking of gremlins…. they may have tinkered with the backhoe a bit (yeah that flat tire didn’t halt the process!) ! Donald rounded up a front-loader to complete the task of transferring the Moondance Diner floor from the former “temporary” site next to the foundation where it will be the seed for the Diner’s upcoming reincarnation.  This is the historical justice due to the Moondance Diner… the union of its original steel-beam floor with a re-constructed frame and a new barrel roof (turn of the century brilliance meets 21st century assembly). This is the kind of spine-tingling nostalgia that makes every step closer to opening Moondance doors worth it. In addition Big Thanks to Bo (whom I believe may have come out of early retirement just to help with this project), Larry (whom also has the much warmer task as town councilman for La Barge yet helped us out in the cold ) and Rowdy(whom has given us well-needed inspiration for an upcoming Diner calender).  This is truly a group effort. National and local support continues to find it’s way via our website, e-mail, snail mail and phone. Vince and I appreciate the kudos. Speaking of Vince….. he has taken on the nightly task of Diner research.  This provides a necessary yet convenient distraction from his day job (which can easily be described as 14 hours of keeping water tanks; which are constantly on the brink of overflow; at bay….. all the while running a traffic gauntlet not much different than a small city) . His latest research has included manufacturers and their subsidiaries and he has located the company that so proudly stamped their names on the “formed concrete” imbedded within the entire West wall of the Moondance. This wall also proudly displayed two windows which had been covered up over the years.  It is possible we may include them once again.  Some of the mystery of the original structure of Moondance Diner has dissipated as the puzzle is slowly assembled . On the other side of the coin its historical intrigue intensifies as our minds try to envision the thousands of patrons whom found themselves dining at Moondance. I wonder what might have been going on in their lives at the time; whether it be celebration, an after-the -concert get together, business luncheon, family outing, date-night, or simply (as we’ve been told once was) the best blue plate special in 40 blocks! THIS is our aspiration and the fact that our competition (40 blocks or not) will be quite distant; geographically and otherwise.

Thanks for the lending an ear. Again.

The Jay Thomas Milkshake…. Radio Host Plans To Air From Moondance?

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Jay Thomas interviewed me today on his talk show…. I was told we followed a segment on New York City toilets? As I do not have Sirius Satellite Radio I may soon become a subscriber.  I anticipated a little skepticism yet found the humor refreshing. As far as interviews go… this being my second live radio interview…. I think it went as well as expected. Got a pitch for the website and maybe a “fingers-crossed behind his back” promise of airing his radio show live from Moondance upon our Grand Opening this Spring. We welcome Jay Thomas and upon his arrival we’ll give a classic milkshake a brand new twist “The Jay Thomas Milkshake” could be a hit ! Thank you for the continued interest in our dream and we appreciate the support from everyone… all listeners and radio personalities alike.

Serious Siruis Interview…The Jay Thomas Show Talks Moondance Diner!

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Upcoming this Tuesday I will have the wonderful opportunity to partake in a live radio interview with the actor Jay Thomas. He has a new show on Sirius Satellite channel 102.  I was contacted on Friday by Lauren, a representative of the show, and apparently he has been following the Moondance Diner story and is interested to hear about our dream and adventure in moving it here to Wyoming. For those of you who do not have Sirius Satellite I will update my blog and let everyone know the jist of the interview. We appreciate the continued interest.

For more information go to www.siriussatelliteradio.com and look under “Sirius Stars” for The Jay Thomas Show on channel 102.
P.S.  A quick side note to a local newspaper reporting the intentions of Rachel Ray to visit our Moondance Diner upon our Grand Opening.  I have spoken to a representative of The Rachel Ray Show back in August of 2007.  She was very interested in our story and did a brief telephone interview at that time indicating that if there was future interest on their part they would contact me in the future.  Although a visit from Rachel Ray or a second chance at an interview would be exceptional, I do not want it reported that any visit has been scheduled at this time. Rachel Ray is always welcome in La Barge and it would be an honor to serve her once the Moondance Diner opens its doors!!!!

Thanks for lending me an ear!

Moondance Diner; The Encore!

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Project Moondance Diner was interrupted last week after accumulated snow damage became too much weight for the walls of the near century old building. Just as we begun the project with passion and good intentions, Vince and I continue to look forward to the completed project. Our general contractor, Donald Hacklin (Hack’s construction) and his faithful crew Larry Stepp and Rowdy Hedrick were inside the Diner last week working when the roof came down; an experience they will not forget. Shaken but uninjured; the team enthusiastically shares our “keep on movin’ on” attitude towards the final project: Moondance Diner. We had planned on craning the Diner over to its new foundation and permament dwelling and as it so happens we will be sectioning the Diner and moving it accordingly. Our original plan to ensure that as many of the original materials and structure of the Diner be preserved still holds true. We have been storing much of those materials the past couple of months (including stools, some appliances, memorabilia, chairs and the sign)  while the excavation for the foundation and setting forms have taken place. We were well aware of the possiblity that the “wooden” structure of the walls may not have the integrity to withstand the rennovation process…. yet it was Wyoming weather that was the force to be reckoned with. Since the damage last Thursday, team Moondance has begun the necessary task of removing the metal window frames, the stainless steel upon the false front, the south wall (which includes 2 of the unbroken windows we hope to salvage and reinstall in the rennovated structure), some of the pleated stainless steel on the interior and the remaining steel on the rear of the Diner (still showcasing the first layer of New York graphiti). We have decided to re-install some features of Moondance Diner that were an integral part of it’s history at some point… including the skylights (a classic feature of Tierney and O’Mahoney Diners). Locating the skylight on Moondance was considered yet the difficulty of fashioning it out of the existing roof could have proven to be quite difficult. Replacing the tar-ridden barrel roof will not only satisfy Wyoming building and safety codes; it will allow us to include the skylight almost seamlessly. We have researched Diners and the “Lunch Wagon” and have seen the skeletal blueprints of the signature barrel roof. It is quite a process but will be well worth it. There was once a door on the South side of the Diner that we will include again. Patrons can access the Diner directly from our outdoor patio area. We have plans to include some of the exterior siding fashioned with New York graphiti in a most creative way in the Diner interior.  After segmenting, sorting, and storing the materials for future use; team Moondance should have some signifcant progress at 584 S. Main. The forms are ready for the remaining concrete and we are working on scheduling electrical lines to be dug and ran to the location (weather permitting ofcourse). We have spoken via e-mail with Frederic Schwartz, the renouned architect from Manhattan and he has indicated he may be by for a visit this spring. His support is truly an honor and we are anxious to welcome him to Wyoming. I have also had a brief and interesting phone conversation with Jim Rogers (the brilliance behind the face of Moondance Diner… he designed, built and installed probably one of the most recognizable features of the Diner; the grandiose sign with the revolving moon.) It was like visiting with an old friend and he has offered his assistance with replacement of the flickers (the tiny metal sequins surrounding the letters) as well as help with fine-tuning the motor that rotates the moon. We are keeping the “positive” flame lit for this project and appreciate all those who have called or e-mailed us with kind words of encouragement. As first time Diner Dreamers, Vince and I are learning that success is also a process; not a shiny trophy, metal or ribbon of accomplishment. There is no failure in our love and committment for Moondance Diner; failure would mean having fallen without getting back up. Experience Moondance magic all over again…the encore to come this spring.

Moondance Damaged

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

The Moondance Diner faces its latest challenge.  Last Friday, the diner suffered damage when the weak walls gave way to wyoming weather.

While Wyoming weather can be brutal, the reality is that 80 years of New York weather and time had already taken its toll.  Most of the wood in the original structure was severly deteriorated and Wyoming weather just gave it that final push.

The good news is that the moondance has been under renovation for the past several months.  During that process, most of the internal features such as floor, stools, counter, lights, etc have been removed and are safe in storage.  The revolving moon sign and external metal siding were also removed and are in storage.  Several of the windows have survivied and the floor is solid, having been reinforced a couple months ago.  Basically what has been lost is the 80 year old walls.  This week the walls will be disassmble to preserve whatever is possible.  The roof is still intact, but has sagged over the years and will not be structurally sound enough to hold the sign. 

 Plans are now to build a new domed roof and walls to the same specifications as the orignal reusing as much of the salvaged material as posible.  Rebuilding the roof gives the oportunity to replace the original skylight that was covered over years ago. The remaining preserved materials can then be put back in the diner.  The diner will be restored to its 1983 Bushbamn design.

Shortly after the diner arrived in Labarge, Wyoming, the metal siding on the back covered in New York graffiti was removed and placed in storage.  This revealed an older wall of wood that was also covered in graffiti.  That wall had not been removed, but survived the damage and will be salvaged.

 Here are several articles by national meadia on the Moondance Damage.

Not to worry, Moondance Diner will be fine - Editorial on PinedaleOnline.com
Snow causes partial collapse of Moondance Diner - Casper Star Tribune
Wyoming winter weighs down Moondance Diner - New York Times
Mother nature’s wrath on the Moondance Diner – Gothamist
Snow damages Moondance Diner – CBS News, typical AP story published by many sources.