Almost 100 years ago, the Palace Diner would have moved. It would have parked outside one of the then-functioning textile mills in Biddeford, Maine, when each shift let out. The barrel-roofed, stainless-steel car would have bulged with row after row of exhausted, sooted workers eager to stifle the day’s hunger. They would have lined up behind one another as each finished their toast, eggs, and bacon on one of the diner’s 15 stools. Today, the mill is a converted workspace, but people still line up to eat at the same diner every day.
The Pollard Company car, known as the Palace Diner, was built in 1927. It’s now not only one of two Pollards left in existence, it’s also Maine’s oldest diner. It’s maintained its original mint-green floor tiles, steel backsplashes, and worn countertop. “Ladies Invited” is still painted onto the exterior, harkening back to days when dining cars were primarily patronized by men. Ownership has changed hands six times since the last Roaring Twenties. Its most recent exchange may have been its most pivotal.
Current owners Greg Mitchell and Chad Conley have earned this locally celebrated and quietly historical diner national acclaim. With stints in both high-end kitchens and highly regarded farms, the pair have applied their culinary prowess to the humble world of diner food. In other words, the brisket and short rib that go into the corned beef hash are brined for days and braised overnight; the breakfast potatoes are blanched, smashed, then fried to attain a perfect crispy exterior and creamy interior; and their legendary tuna melt is served on thick, griddled challah bread with house-made bread-and-butter pickles.
Update as of May 2021: The restaurant is currently closed for renovations until June 13, 2021.
Know Before You Go
Fifteen seats only and can be a long wait but worth it! Cash only! ATM located outside diner car if needed.