SPENCERTOWN, NY – There’s a cliché line used by motorcyclists that goes “It not the destination, it’s the ride.” The point behind it is that getting there – wherever “there” might be – should provide the primary enjoyment for riders whenever they leave home on two (or three) wheels.
While I don’t ever discount the joys of riding, such as discovering new back roads, I do sometimes head out fixated on a target destination. The stomach’s growling, for instance, and no amount of fresh scenery or colorful foliage will fill it.
Over the years, thanks most often to knowledgeable fellow riders, I’ve found dozens of roadside eateries and other foodstuff purveyors in New England and the Hudson Valley. One of the most satisfying is Dan’s Diner on Route 203 in Spencertown, NY.
Open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday, Dan’s Diner is a throwback that can be traced to Connecticut. It was built in 1925 by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company in Elizabeth N.J. The company reportedly produced 2,000 diners between 1917 and 1941, and the diner that’s currently called Dan’s Diner was first located in Durham, CT.
Owner Dan Rundell purchased it in 1993 and had it trucked to his property for restoration. “It was pretty messed up when he got it,” said Chris Rundell, his wife, who recalled that it had been damaged by fire. It took 12 years of hard work to rehab it to its original grandeur, but it wasn’t until March 2010 that it opened for business.
“It’s pretty much the way it was back then,” said Chris Rundell, referring to its appearance as it came from the factory. She noted such features as the curved oak ceiling with gold leaf trim, pocket doors and pocket windows, and the nickel hoods above the griddle and stove.
Dan’s Diner is a cozy establishment with only 18 stools. The fare is what you’d expect – comfort food such as sizeable omelets and French toast for breakfast. For lunch, there are burgers, sandwiches, subs and wraps, and soup. Lunch specials are posted nearly every day on the Facebook page of Dan’s Diner.
The most direct route to get there is head north on Route 22 out of Millerton, NY for a little more than 25 miles and turn left on Route 203. Dan’s Diner is located on the left side of the road between Spencertown and Chatham.
If you’re riding, and have a map or GPS, you might want to turn left earlier on to Route 23 and then work your way north to Spencertown on some of picturesque county roads in Columbia County. The scenery is worth the time and effort.