Bucktail Memorial, Expansion Planned for Smethport Diner | New

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It’s official, the Smethport Diner, home of the “Hubber-Burger”, is owned by the American Legion Post 108.

The 85-year-old restaurant was put up for sale in 2021 and Legion was leading the purchase, with plans to expand in the future. Post Commander Courtney Cole said, “The project will be a long process, but the end result will be worth it.”

He explained that the project will have three phases.

The first phase includes a 24ft by 36ft terrace at the rear of the current restaurant building which will be connected to the main building currently housing the legion.

Phase two is going to be a challenge and will involve the most community support. Cole said the entire facade of the restaurant would be removed, “we can’t save it, there’s no foundation and everything’s deteriorated.” The map of where the covered wagon restaurant is will be a memorial to the Bucktail soldiers, with all the names. Cole isn’t sure yet if the memorial will be brick or some other material, but the display will take up the 80 feet in front of the building.

Phase three should be the easiest of them all, but it will probably be the final phase. Interior work on the building is needed, particularly once the facade is removed and the two buildings reunited, there will be feats of engineering to tackle what remains inside, Cole said.

“Some parts of this are going to take a long time. We’ll probably be launching a fundraising campaign in July and working with a grants writer for the memorial phase, and we know we’ll have to fund most of the building renovations ourselves, which might slow things down, but we we’re excited to get things started,” he said.

The upgrades and expansion will give more room for the community to host events, something the area has been lacking for some time. Cole said: “I wish I could have kept the restaurant as a restaurant, this town needs another place to eat, but it will give the area a place to hold large gatherings like weddings and conferences, once that it will be finished.”

The Diner, as it has been called in recent years, has a long history. According to the McKean County Historical Society, Smethport Diner was built by Alfred Sturdveint following the disastrous Main Street fire in 1933. The restaurant was built to look like a railroad car and quickly became a popular stop on along historic Route 6. The restaurant has had a variety of owners over the years, but quality food, friendly hospitality and a unique atmosphere have always distinguished the restaurant.

Many attempts had been made in recent years to keep the restaurant as a restaurant, but it just couldn’t be done.

Under new ownership and with a new purpose, the bones of the Diner will serve the community of Smethport in a much larger and better way.

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