The Two Trails Fabulous ’50’s Diner is open again, after a grill fire closed the popular Standish eatery on Nov. 14.

Despite not advertising their reopening and setting the date only two weeks in advance, the diner welcomed many loyal customers when it reopened Feb. 2.

“I keep hearing even today, ‘We’re so glad you’re open, we can go someplace to get a decent breakfast again,'” said owner Gib Douglas, who has run the diner since 1995.

Located at the intersection of routes 25 and 113, the diner opened in the 1920s, originally as a teahouse. While it has changed owners many times, the current 1950s theme has been a community effort. The walls are decorated with pictures of a bygone era, including original records by Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly. It’s a collection that Douglas has gathered over the years, supplemented by donations from customers.

The state fire marshal ruled the November fire was accidental. It was caused by grease under the kitchen grill catching on fire a few hours after the restaurant had closed. While the loss was minimal, smoke damage was the biggest problem for Douglas. As a result, the entire restaurant had to be professionally cleaned and the walls repainted.

“Once we closed down, we decided we had some other work to do, too,” Douglas said.

In addition to paying for the new grill, Douglas also had the ceiling replaced, walls repainted and a new floor installed. Once all the work was complete, the final renovation cost was right around the original estimate after the fire, about $40,000.

Douglas also had to comply with fire code requirements, mandated by the fire marshal. These included changing the location of the restaurant’s propane tank and making the electrical wiring safer.

Standish Fire Chief Martin Jordan described Douglas’ compliance with the requirements to get the restaurant back up to code: “He did an excellent, excellent job,” Jordan said.

Jordan also said the inspection and rebuilding process can be lengthy, requiring many meetings with several different inspectors, insurance adjusters and contractors over the course of the project. Jordan saif that Douglas’s rebuilding effort was executed in a timely manner, especially given the holidays.

It is not the first fire in the diner’s history. While the kitchen dates back to the 1930s, there was a fire that leveled the dining room in the 1960s and another minor fire in the 1990s.

Right up until the opening, Douglas was working 16-hour days and wanted to open before the weekend, when business is best. “There were a lot of ifs,” Douglas said. He added that each day is getting better financially.

Douglas credits his positive attitude for getting him through the lengthy 11-week rebuilding process.

“I knew nobody was going to stop me from opening,” said Douglas.

He was strengthened by the community support he received, with regular customers stopping in often and checking on the diner’s progress.

Ken Yates, owner of nearby Ken’s Tool Shed on Route 113 and one of the diner’s regulars, has been going to Two Trails for 15 years because it’s a central gathering place for the community. He checked on Douglas and helped him when he could during the rebuild.

“It serves a needed purpose in the community. I’m glad to see it’s back,” Yates said.

Yates also sponsors Two Trails Fabulous ’50’s diner’s “Cruise Night,” a summer tradition on Wednesday evenings attracting classic cars, as well as fundraising efforts that have included everything from a barbecue to support the Maine troop license plates to a street dance to benefit Camp Sunshine.

The diner’s “Grand Ol’ Reopening” is tentatively scheduled for the end of March or the beginning of April. Douglas hopes diner favorite David Angel and the Memories will perform. Angel resembles the late ’50’s icon Richie Valens in both his appearance and musical style and has played Valens in a play called “Lonesome Town.”


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