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New Owner Purchases Blue Benn Diner And Changes Nothing (Except Adding COVID Safety Protocols)

The sign propped up in the parking space in front of Bennington's Blue Benn Diner reads, "If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It!" And since new owner John Getchell left his home in Southern Maine to purchase and run the Bennington landmark, he has changed very little about it.

The blue-and-cream colored aluminum eatery was built in 1948 in New Jersey, in the railroad dining-car style, and was brought to Bennington and placed on the land where it still sits.

A local favorite for good, affordable food in a diner-style setting, The Blue Benn boasts a gargantuan menu, with 20 different styles of omelette alone.

All the baked goods served at the diner are homemade. For Getchell, keeping the "comfort" in comfort food and honoring the familiarity of the long-standing Bennington restaurant is front of mind.

Other than adding in painted Plexiglas barriers and ensuring staff and patrons alike wear masks inside his establishment during COVID-19, Getchell hasn't changed anything else.

"The stars just sort of aligned in just the right way for this to happen." - John Getchell, owner at Blue Benn Diner

Brian Carpenter, the cook who learned under the helm of the diner's previous owner, Sonny Monroe, still arrives at 4 a.m. to prep for the day and bake homemade muffins, pies and donuts.

Clark also roasts whole turkeys for one of the diner's signature plates. Of Carpenter, Getchell said, "There is not another person on the planet who could execute this menu, quite frankly."

The waitstaff is full of folks who have worked for years and in some cases decades at the diner. "They are the faces that the patrons expect to see," Getchell said.

Monroe, who owned The Blue Benn since 1973 with his wife Mary Lou, passed away in 2019 and his wife and daughter took over the day-to-day operations until March of 2020, when the pandemic began taking its toll on small businesses and many local restaurants.

"The stars just sort of aligned in just the right way for this to happen," Getchell says. "As soon as I knew that I had the wherewithall to make the transaction, I went for it."

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Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
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