Shawmut Diner donated to Bristol County House of Corrections for - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Shawmut Diner donated to Bristol County House of Corrections for job training

Shawmut Diner donated to Bristol County House of Corrections for job training

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By: Melissa Randall

mrandall@abc6.com

The iconic Shawmut Diner has a new home- one behind bars. Tuesday the diner was donated to the Bristol County house of corrections where it will be used for job training.

After one last photograph was taken the New Bedford landmark was hauled out of the lot it's called home since 1953.

“Well I had to come say good bye to an old friend,” said long time patron Andre Poirier.

The iconic diner closed last month. Owner Phil Paleologos and his wife decided they wanted to spend more time with their growing family. Still, seeing their beloved diner drive away was difficult to watch.

“Today was an emotionally uprooting day because this has been part of our family for so many decades,” said Paleologos. “It's almost like losing a member of the family.”

Instead of selling the landmark the owners decided to donate it. The diner’s new owner is not the usual choice. It will now be run by the Bristol County House of Corrections in North Dartmouth. Sheriff Thomas Hodgson says it will be used to train prisoners getting ready to re-enter society. Specific criteria would have to be me and not all inmates would be able to participate in the work program.

“It could be of great use to the inmates here to learn a skill in the service trade. We already have a culinary arts program here,” said Hodgson.

Once up and running the diner could serve contractors and staff at the jail. Eventually Sheriff Hodgson wants the diner to also be able to serve the public.

Inmates Jennifer Berube and Liz Masiello are preparing to be released and are hoping that working at the diner will lead to a future employer giving them a second chance.

“They'll be more wiling to hire somebody like us– knowing that we do have the skills that we were taught here,” said Masiello.

The diner could be cooking up meals by next year.

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