December 29, 2017

A La Mexicana on the way to re-opening as Maine’s first Mexican Diner by Elizabeth Richards

Diner being placed in its new home
Since A La Mexicana was devastated by fire last year, Bob and Laurie Mason, who own the property the restaurant was on, have been committed to helping Jose Chavez and his family reopen their business. 
“This summer we helped Jose out by putting together a food truck for him, so he could keep working and keep supporting his family. They had great success,” Laurie said. 

Last Friday, the next phase in the plan to keep Chavez in business was put into action when the pieces of an original Valiant diner arrived in Raymond from its former home in Piketon, OH.  The diner is being set on the site of the former building, which was demolished in November of 2017.

While weather delayed delivery of the final pieces of the diner, most arrived amid stormy weather last week. Once CMP sets up the necessary power for the diner, the Masons can get things hooked up and ready to go. They are hoping to be ready to open by the end of February, Laurie said. idea came about when the Masons were dining at the Miss Portland Diner. “Bob and I were trying to figure out the best way to get Jose back in business,” Laurie said. They explored various options, but hadn’t come up with one that would work. As they ate breakfast in Portland one morning, she said Bob looked around and asked, “What about a diner?” 

They began checking out modular diners, but new ones were beyond their reach financially.  They were about to give up, Laurie said, when a friend contacted them with a lead on a used diner in Ohio.   

The Masons flew to Ohio to check the diner out. “We looked at it and fell in love with it. When you see it you’ll know why,” Laurie said.  “It’s in beautiful condition.”

They returned to Raymond and worked with the planning board, presenting a plan that they thought would fit in with the town.  
Diner after the long trip from Ohio

The process took a while, but in the end, the project was approved, and the diner was scheduled to be moved. 

Though there are many diners throughout the state, this one will be unique. “It will more than likely be Maine’s first and only Mexican Diner. Maybe even New England’s first and only Mexican diner,” Laurie said.

“I think it’s very, very exciting. I think it’s going to be a big draw for the town of Raymond,” Laurie said. Because the diner is smaller than the footprint of the original building, they can have a large outdoor seating area and patio for summertime visitors. “That old building really was a white elephant and had been through so much,” Laurie said. “This is really going to be a nice fresh start for them there, and it’s going to be a lovely thing.” Mason’s goal all along has been to get Chavez back in business. “They’re a wonderful family. They work hard, they’re a great asset to the community,” Laurie said. When the fire happened, she said, they didn’t want to see the family, whom they had developed a bond with, have to leave. “It was just a building to us, but for them it was their whole life. We were able to help them, so we did,” she said.

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