The Little Depot Diner Serves Up Lord Stanley — Bruins Style
This quaint diner in Peabody Square serves up fresh and simple fare with sunshine on the side.
The Little Depot Diner
Owners: Judy and Jim Miles
“All Aboard!” signals the tin whistle as it blows, and the train is off and running — in miniature form, of course.
The Little Depot Diner is located in Peabody Square, owned and operated by Judy and Jim Miles. Together, they have created an atmosphere akin to stepping back in time, when troubles were small and smiles were big, and truthfully, the happiness is contagious.
Why is everyone so joyous on this particular day?
“Well, the Bruins won, so that’s a good thing!” owner Judy Miles laughs. “Life is good, maybe we’ll do a Stanley Cup Special this weekend!”
From the first steps through the sliding front door, you know you’re about to experience something so unexpectedly wonderful, it’s almost surreal. The vintage dining car is right out of a 1950s movie, complete with Elvis tracks quietly playing in the background. There are puffy, white clouds painted on the ceiling and a miniature train travels in a loop with every “All Aboard,” special ordered.
Even the waitresses are decked out in ‘50s style aprons and readily greet customers with a smile and a hot cup o’ joe.
Judy, who is originally from Danvers, and husband Jim, a Peabody native, first heard about the diner from Jim’s great aunt Claire, who noticed the “For Sale” sign and declared to her sister, Jim’s mother: “Look May, a sign in the window. Don’t tell Jim because he’ll buy it!”
Well, she told him anyway, and the rest is history.
“When we first took a look at the inside, it was all painted purple...but it had its thirteen little stools and I thought, ‘Well, that’s do-able!’ I figured on me, a cook and a dishwasher,” recalls Judy Miles, who has had years of restaurant experience.
The couple completely refurbished the interior, save for the original white subway tiles and wainscoting, and built two additions: an office on one end and a front porch to the front. Complete with a checker board sandwiched between two wooden rockers, the porch lends itself as another opportunity for patrons and neighbors to get together. After three years, Miles is amazed that every checker is still in its spot.
“It’s a small diner...we don’t allow cell phones, so people have to talk to each other. I think it’s kind of a lost art,” she says.
“If you want to use your cell phone you have to take it into the penalty box!” Miles jokes, pointing towards the office addition on the end of the building.
“I love coming in here because they always make me feel so welcome. It’s just a nice place; I always leave feeling happy and the food is great!” confessed one satisfied customer from his seat at the breakfast bar one Saturday morning.
Named “Best Breakfast on the North Shore” in 2009, in addition to a feature in Northshore Magazine on the top 10 diners in the area, the Little Depot Diner was also featured on the popular Food Network program, “Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives” with Guy Fieri, shortly after it opened.
The producer for the show encouraged Miles to keep a guest book for customers to sign. “He prepared me very well. He said, ‘When this airs, your business will never be the same’ — and he was right,” she recalls.
To date, people from as far away as Istanbul have eaten at the diner and taken time to sign the guestbook. There are entries from folks from 38 countries.
With a menu that includes chef Angela DeLuca's designer pancakes, such as the Tim Thomas/Stanley Cup inspired pancake, topped off with the diner’s own “special butter” (a mixture of maple, caramel, cinnamon and butter), the diner has all the usual fare: sausages, bacon, home fries, eggs and french toast. There is always an omelette special, such as spinach and feta, plus lunchtime specialties such a s real homemade French Corton and meatloaf with eggs.
“When its all said and done, it’s the people that make this job great — they’re our entertainment. They say we’re theirs, but really it’s the other way around!” Miles chuckles.
Since 2008, The Little Depot Diner has promised an “honest cup of coffee” and fresh, simple food made right. No extra charge for the sunshine.