WELLS — Myles Henry, a co-owner of the popular Maine Diner, which was featured recently on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,” died unexpectedly on Friday. He was 54.

Mr. Henry and his brother, Dick, opened the diner on Route 1 in Wells in 1983. He was considered a key to the success of the business, using his strengths in marketing to showcase its food and charm.

Mr. Henry was honored as the 2010 Maine Restaurateur of the Year by the Maine Restaurant Association. His restaurant was also featured on the “Today” show and The Phantom Gourmet.

Mr. Henry is credited with creating the diner’s award-winning seafood chowder, one of its most popular dishes. In March, Mr. Henry’s chowder was represented in Jane and Michael Stern’s New Orleans Roadfood Festival at Roadfood.com.

His younger brother, Todd Henry of Freeport, said his brother worked in the restaurant business all of his life and built a solid reputation for giving customers a great dining experience.

“Myles had a way of making customers feel special,” his brother said Tuesday. “He made people want to come back again. It speaks volumes about the success of the business.”

Mr. Henry died Friday while on a golfing trip with old friends on Marco Island, Fla. That day, he played two rounds of golf and went out to dinner with his friends. A patron at the restaurant found him unconscious on the floor in the men’s room.

He was resuscitated, but his family believes he may have had a heart attack at or en route to the hospital.

He had a medical episode earlier this fall, and doctors discovered afterward that he had a defect in a valve in his heart.

“I’m still in shock,” Todd Henry said. “We were all so close. He was my big brother. We just can’t believe it.”

Mr. Henry grew up in Nashua, N.H., the fourth of seven children. He and his wife, Trisha Henry, were married for six years. On Tuesday, she remembered the day they met. She was on the Stairmaster at the gym, and he turned on the charm.

“He was such a smooth talker,” she said. “It didn’t take much for me to fall for his corny lines. We became friends first, but we knew very quickly that we were in love.”

She said they had a good life together and traveled around the world to see the Rolling Stones.

“We had such an amazing year,” she said. “We laughed a lot. We laughed so much together. He was silly and he loved to live life.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Henry leaves two children, Sara Henry, 25, of Watertown, Mass.; and Derek Henry, 16, of Kennebunk.

He was remembered by his children Tuesday as a good father who always took an interest in their lives. His son worked alongside his father at the diner.

“It was awesome working with him,” his son said. “He was my role model. I feel like him having died has made me realize all that I had. He was my hero.”

 

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: [email protected]