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Upper Valley Developer Close to Buying Polka Dot Diner

  • Hartford officials have applied to put the Polka Dot on the National Register of Historic Places. The diner is closed and the building is for sale in White River Junction, Vt., Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, January 04, 2018

White River Junction — After sitting empty for a few years, the former Polka Dot Restaurant may soon see some new life. 

The owner of the iconic downtown White River Junction diner, which has been closed since 2015, is nearing a deal to sell the building to Upper Valley developer Mike Davidson.

The parties hope to close on the sale within the next couple of weeks, pending any last-minute glitches, Davidson said via email. Davidson’s property management company, Ledgeworks, has already hung a banner outside the building at 7 North Main St. advertising for a tenant.

Mary Shatney, who ran the diner for 54 years, declined to comment, saying she wanted to wait until the sale closed. Although terms of the sale are not known, Shatney had been seeking $130,000 for the building.

One factor hampering a sale of the building in the past has been that the land underneath the diner is owned by Canadian National Railway, which made potential buyers skittish over the stability of the lease.

But even though the deal is not done, hopeful tenants are already eyeing the snug 1,088 square-foot diner (including kitchen). 

Eduardo Moran, a 2005 Lebanon High graduate who opened the Taco's Tacos food truck in the Upper Valley over the summer, said he is in talks with Davidson’s company about possibly leasing the building, but nothing has been decided.

“I’m going to look at a copy of the lease agreement and I have to come up with the funds,” Moran told the Valley News today, after posting about trying to make the diner building a “new home” for Taco’s Tacos on the business’s Facebook page Wednesday night.

Another restaurant, Trail Breaks Taps + Tacos, opened downtown in the former American Legion Hall late last year. But if Taco’s Tacos leased the Polka Dot building, the concept would be to focus on breakfast or lunch crowds, Moran said elsewhere on the business page. 

“Just keep it nice and simple,” he said. “Nothing is set. Just want a year round kitchen!”

Davidson owns more than two dozen residential and commercial properties in White River Junction, Lebanon and Enfield, including the building which houses Elixir restaurant and Fatty’s BBQ in White River Junction.

His most recent projects include conversion of the former Roy’s Auto Service garage at the corner of Colburn Park in Lebanon into Lucky’s Coffee Garage, and redeveloping the former junior high school on Bank Street in Lebanon into 42 loft-style apartments.

Posted Thursday at 2:05 p.m. Find a full report in an upcoming edition of the Valley News.