Old Milford Diner lifted, getting ready for travel

Mel Brandt has moved a lot of diners.

Brandt, president of M&G Rigging and Hauling in Lancaster, Pa., was in downtown Milford Monday getting ready to move another one.

A New York newspaper, The Sullivan County Democrat, described him in a 2005 article as “a veteran ‘king of the road’ of diner movers’.”

He certainly looked the part here in Milford, walking around the old Milford Diner on the SBC property, shoring it up with help from his assistant, Marty Barr.

Brandt was at the site early Monday morning, checking to make sure the old diner was ready for a road trip to Indiana, where it will be restored and then reopened as a working diner there.

But things weren’t exactly to Brandt’s liking. He found something at the base of the structure that needed to be secured before the move, so he called the local fabricating company that had been helping to get it ready and they came back and had the problem fixed by mid-afternoon.

A flatbed truck arrived early Tuesday morning, as well as a crane, to lift the old diner onto the truck.

A man of few words, Brandt said he isn’t sure how long it would take to get to Indiana. “I’ll have to wait ‘til I get there,” he said with a smile.

Traffic and other issues may factor into the delivery time, he said. Danny Miller, of Kokomo, Ind., who is at the other end of this long-distance diner move, had initially expected the diner would arrive to him sometime late Wednesday night.

The drive is 792 miles, according to Google Maps, which also notes the driving time is 12 hours and 49 minutes — that is if one isn’t hauling a diner.

Barr said on Tuesday that the diner would probably roll out of Milford Wednesday morning. State transportation officials had to come first and inspect the load, and then the diner would be shrink wrapped for the trip.

Brandt said he has moved more than 200 diners in the last 20 years or so. The first time he moved one, he said he really didn’t want to do it, but the owner kept calling him and finally he gave in.

“So we did it,” Brandt said.

And since then, moving diners has kept him pretty busy.

Brandt said he’s gotten lots of calls about the Milford Diner. It was at least 10 years ago he thought he was going to be tapped to move it from the SBC parking lot, but then he got a call that it was staying here.

The Milford Diner was once a city landmark, serving breakfast to area residents for many years. It closed in 2003, and despite efforts to move it and later to re-open it in the SBC parking lot as a sort of information center, it remained unused and a victim of the elements.