SHERBURNE — Trick or treaters in Sherburne can stop by the Sherburne Diner for a night of spooky fun this Halloween. From 4:30 to 7 p.m. the restaurant, located at 47 North Main Street, will be hosting "Night of the Living Diner," a family-friendly Halloween event filled with all treats and no tricks.
Residents can stop by the diner while out trick or treating to warm up with hot coffee and hot chocolate, have some snacks, grab a treat bag, and play some Halloween games. They'll also get a chance to meet the diner's new owner Joe Isaacs, who credits the evening's festivities to his staff.
The idea snowballed from decorating the diner for Halloween to handing out candy, and now has grown into a full-fledged event they hope to bring back every year.
"Savannah, my kitchen manager, she asked me if we were going to do anything for Halloween, and I figured we’re right in the middle of town so we should probably do something," said Isaacs. "Her and one of my servers, Audrey, started getting excited. And they’re like, well can we do this? Can we do that? So I’m like, well why don’t we just do a whole thing and we can give it a name, and then maybe we can make it an annual thing. You know, start our own little annual Night of the Living Diner."
Savannah emphasized the impact the diner has had on the area in its approximate 75 years of existence. She said many senior citizens have become regulars of the establishment and are now like family to many of the staff. They have also seen children grow up in the diner, and many of the staff themselves have grown up frequenting the eatery.
"It serves as place to socialize and get a warm meal. We serve people of all walks of life here. We are proud to be a hub of the community," she said. "The idea behind our free community event, Night of the Living Diner, is that sometimes it is easy to get caught up in all the dark that happens, and we believe that connection with the community, and in the community, can only make our community a stronger, safer place for our youth."
Isaacs said since giving the women the green light they have been hard at work decorating the restaurant, putting together treat bags, planning entertainment, and spreading the word throughout the community and local schools.
Sugar Hill Farms, Isaac's local maple syrup supplier, will also have a booth at the event, and the Lickety Split ice cream truck will be in attendance handing out ice cream. Those who want to settle in and stay a while can take a break from trick or treating and get their faces painted or carve a pumpkin in the diner as well.
Isaacs has many years of experience in the food service industry, as the owner of Big Joe's Food Truck, and some Chenango County residents may remember him from his many years at the Wild Owl Cafe in Norwich.
He took over ownership of the diner this summer, after the prior owners of 22 years decided to close their doors. It was important to him to keep the diner community-centered, where visitors always felt welcome.
"That’s kind of been my theme. I wanted a business of my own, yes, but I also wanted it to be a part of the community, and how else to do that besides get the community in here, and give back to the community?" said Isaacs.
"That's kind of the idea behind the whole thing, is just be involved in the community, because they’re what keep us around. I remember when I was talking to Mike [LaCroce, owner of the Wild Owl] about being my own boss. He’s like, you’re never your own boss there, buddy. I’m like, what do you mean? He points out to the dining rooms, he goes, they’re your boss now. If you can’t keep them coming back you’re not going to go far," he continued. "I’m ruled by what the people want. If I don’t give them what they want they don’t come back to get it."
Even the name of the restaurant is a signal to the Sherburne community that the diner is their place to gather and enjoy good food and good company.
"Yes, it’s my place, but I want them to feel like it’s their place," Isaacs explained. "When I was trying to think of the name, one of the ideas was ‘Big Joe’s Diner.’ And I’m like, well you’ve got Joe and Vinny’s. They’ve had Joe’s pizza, and they've been here almost as long as this place has been here. And then it was like ‘Isaacs Family Diner,’ and just ‘The Diner.’ And I’m like, you know what, this whole thing was to give the diner back to Sherburne."
"I wanted to kind of give it back to the community and say, hey Sherburne, this is Sherburne’s Diner. Sherburne Diner. So that’s why I just went simple with it. I don’t need any credit, I just want people to enjoy being able to come back here again," he added.
Since purchasing the diner, Isaacs has done some minor renovations, including painting, deep cleaning, and adjustments to the kitchen. He said some things are still a work in progress, and he hopes to update more in the future, such as plumbing, adding a handicap-accessible bathroom, siding, and more.
"We’re still working on the menu, we’re still working on pricing in some areas. We’re still trying to figure it out a little bit on some level. But for the most part we just want to give people good, homestyle-cooked food. Fresh food, quality food, as decent a price as I can muster with the supply chain these days," he said.
The Sherburne Diner is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sundays, but will be closing early at 3 p.m. on Halloween to prepare for Night of the Living Diner.
Isaacs encourages local trick or treaters to stop by the diner, enjoy some Halloween fun, and get to know him and the staff that made the event possible.
"Come in, get warmed up, grab a treat, have some fun. Or stop on your way when you’re done [trick or treating]," said Isaacs. "Audrey and Savannah, Erica’s been helping. I mean, they've been great. They’re really excited and I’m just excited to be able to do something."
"I want to revitalize this place, and make it so there’s things we’re known for. Oh, the diner does this every year. Something that’s memorable and people think of."
More information on the Sherburne Diner can be found at SherburneDiner.square.site or on the Sherburne Diner Facebook page.