This is heartbreaking and cruel. And it stinks like a landfill.
Steve Bishop and his wife, Vicki Garcia Bishop, and their Bishop’s Fourth Street Diner are being chased from their home near the rotary at Connell Highway.
The Fourth Street, once the Princeton Diner, has been there for decades. The Bishops are locals, who have devoted their lives to their diner and the area food industry. They’d love to stay on.
Problem is they own the diner but not the land it sits on. That’s owned by an outfit called Colbea Enterprises, which runs a bunch of Seasons (formerly Shell) stations locally and statewide.
Colbea obviously has little sense or flavor of this community, which enjoys preserving its history, and probably as little interest.
It plans to knock down its current gas station next to the diner. And then it would demolish the diner and build a Seasons Market on the site.
Nobody wants this, except the developers. What people want is the Fourth Street Diner, but that makes too much sense.
Keep in mind there are now two Seasons stations in Newport and two in Middletown. Maybe one of those could be trashed in order to make way for a full Seasons Market, without displacing a popular business.
Our area has slowly been losing its diners. Tommy’s in Middletown closed in 2007 (I know …has it really been that long?).
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Reidy’s in Portsmouth, technically not a diner in design like Bishop’s, shut down last year. Sure, there are plenty of places for breakfast on Aquidneck, but Bishop’s is a diner in the O’Mahony style from the 1950s. It looks like the diners we grew up with.
The key thing I’ve loved about diners is the mix of people you see … white collar, blue collar, various ethnicities, folks looking for a tasty, affordable meal.
Some people show up every day. Tourists might wander in: “So, is this Fourth Street? I don’t see a street sign.”
Keep in mind that Colbea has done nothing illegal or unethical. The company leased to the couple on a month-to-month basis. Now the Bishops need to be out Jan. 31. Happy New Year.
We’re left with something we never experienced at Bishop’s … a bad taste in our mouths.
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It may not appear to be the best location, (especially lately) but it’s great in many ways. It draws a lot of military and civilian personnel from down the street. Easy to find and it has parking.
Steve Bishop says he and his wife could find a new spot. But there’s little open space in these parts. And, he said, they’re not young anymore, at least young enough to start fresh.
My wife and I celebrated her landmark August birthday at the diner (we did go a little more upscale a few nights later). The diner was as good, maybe better, than in the past.
We haven’t been back because, well, we figured it would always be there. That’s always a mistake.
Steve Bishop estimates there are 20 O’Mahony diners left in the country. Before long it will be 19.
ODDZNENDZ: On a happier note, nice to see all the love and affection for my neighbor, Gene Perrotti, celebrating his 100th birthday.
Family and friends held a neighborhood car parade last Saturday. Hey, he deserves a parade every weekend.
• R.I.P.: Former Newport Mayor David Gordon, a great guy who embodied the spirit of community service. I’ll have more on David next week.
• Am I the only one feeling a little empty by the Newport Police’s new investigation into the Doris Duke case? It felt abrupt, as police ruled the case an accident, same as in 1966.
Of course, it must be tough to reinvestigate a case in which most of those connected are now dead. But it left me wanting more explanation.
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• As a judge, the guy in the Kyle Rittenhouse case makes a good defense lawyer. Oh, and that fake sobbing, chest heaving from Rittenhouse would get him drummed out of a high school play.
• And what kind of mother drives her son across state lines to (ahem) protect property in a riot while toting an AR-15?
• Oh, I neglected to mention “Mr. North” (1988) discussing Newport-made movies. It’s an OK film but most notable because it included a lot of Newport extras.
And most notably, famed director John Huston, whose son Tony directed, died during the filming while renting a house in Middletown. John Huston had earlier bowed out of acting in the film, replaced by Robert Mitchum.
Mitchum enjoyed his time in several Newport taverns.
Jim Gillis is a Daily News columnist. Send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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