By Gary Lloyd
The old Food Town building on Main Street in Pinson is the perfect spot for the Cheyenne Diner to relocate, according to the executive director overseeing the project to move the historic diner.
Going Back Enterprises Executive Director Patti Miller said her company owns the former Food Town, the biggest building on Main Street.
“It would be the perfect setting if we could work something out and put it in Pinson,” Miller said.
Miller said there have been discussions with the city of Pinson about relocating the diner there since the summer of 2011. Pinson Mayor Hoyt Sanders said he could not comment on the project.
“As with any commercial project, I cannot comment other than generally,” Sanders said in an email to The Trussville Tribune. “Generally speaking, the council is mindful of the need of additional commercial options for restaurant service, so we look forward to any possible addition to our area.”
Miller said nothing has been brought to the Pinson City Council for approval. Going Back Enterprises has conceptual drawings of how the Cheyenne Diner would fit against the old Food Town building, since the diner can’t be a standalone restaurant. Miller said the downtown area of Pinson — the oldest town in Jefferson County — would be a “perfect fit” for the diner, which was built in 1939. Miller said she’d like to see Pinson “take some interest” in its downtown and Main Street, which has an old town feel.
“We would like to see Pinson come back as the oldest town in Jefferson County,” Miller said. “You need to maintain that for nothing more than historical value of that.”
The Cheyenne Diner was one of three or four of its kind even built, and it’s the only one left, Miller said. It was moved to Manhattan, N.Y., in 1940 or 1941 and named the Cheyenne Diner in 1986 when it was sold. It became famous around that time when photo shoots and movie scenes were shot there, Miller said.
“There’s a lot of historical value with it, and there’s interest all over the world,” Miller said.
The 96-foot diner has been in an undisclosed location in the Birmingham area since it was moved from Manhattan in 2009, Miller said. It was moved in two pieces, something that took six hours to prep for. Miller said it’s “jaw dropping” to watch the preparation that goes into moving the diner, something so interesting that the Discovery Channel wants to film when a new location for the diner is set.
Miller said CNN wants to cover the diner’s relocation, Coca-Cola contacted her about a possible commercial to be filmed in the diner and magazines have also been in contact over possible coverage.
Miller said the diner is owned through a limited family partnership and that Going Back Enterprises is overseeing the project that would relocate the Cheyenne Diner to a city and accompany it with a family entertainment development, which would include a car museum that would feature cars from all over the country and a music venue/recording studio.
Miller said plans to relocate the diner to other cities have fallen through in the past, including in Irondale. She said there was a “little bit of talk” with Trussville years ago about the old Circuit City building off U.S. Highway 11, but that space didn’t fit the old town feel for the historic diner.
Miller has been contacted by other cities — which she couldn’t mention — outside of Jefferson County but still in Alabama that are interested in having the Cheyenne Diner relocate to their cities, she said. Studies show the family-oriented diner will draw people from a 150-mile radius who want to visit, Miller said.
“Wherever it’s put, it will be a destination,” she said
Miller said Pinson is “absolutely” a possible destination for the Cheyenne Diner and that the draw of people wanting to visit would be “good for everybody,” including Trussville hotels.
“It’ll be good for the area,” she said.
Lee Weyhrich contributed to this story.
Contact Gary Lloyd at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.