MERIDEN — Less than three months after opening, The Landmark Diner has closed, but a new owner is already planning to reopen the historic eatery in March.
The diner has been locked and quiet since Jan. 2, with no sign or social media message explaining the decision. Former co-operator Samir Hassan said this week the business is “unfortunately” closed for good.
“Everyone liked our food and loved coming in. There was just (not) enough traffic and I grew to realize that the place is limited to how much it can grow,” Hassan said via Facebook Messenger Wednesday.
The historic diner, at 82 W. Main St., opened under new management in mid-October 2019. Samir Hassan operated the business with his sister, Hanan Hassan, and her fiance, Jovany Ayala. The property is owned by Henry Le, who could not be reached for comment.New owner‘over the moon’
When Meriden resident Melisa Gonzalez saw the closing, she jumped on the opportunity.
“I’m over the moon, it’s almost surreal,” she said Thursday. “I have been, for the last couple of years, looking to open something in the downtown area.”
"My vision for the place is to be able to be a part of the community, serve the community, have that community feel."
-New owner Melisa Gonzalez
Gonzalez, who plans to open in March, is renaming the restaurant “Mel’s Diner.” It will be family run, with her 21- and 28-year-old daughters involved.
The Meriden native works full time as a home-care nurse and was looking to transition out of the job. She has worked in other family-operated restaurants. Mel’s Diner will serve breakfast and lunch.
“My vision for the place is to be able to be a part of the community, serve the community, have that community feel,” she said.
She hopes to host fundraisers and paint nights and feels consistent, quality food is important to being successful.Enough traffic?
Economic Development Director Joseph Feest said he’s optimistic for the future of the stainless steel diner, part of the city’s history for decades.
“It’s a quaint little spot inside there and I would say that (Le) ... redid the building quite well,” he said.
Feest believes foot traffic from the nearby businesses and offices should be sufficient.
“I would have expected more with the Police Department, YMCA and courthouse (nearby),” Samir Hassan. “There wasn’t enough traffic.”
Gonzalez doesn’t feel it will be a problem, as long as people know where they can park for free.
Parking is available behind the diner and for up to two hours in municipal lots. The diner staff can validate parking.