Classic Rhode Island diner rescued from wrecking ball


PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — After sitting in a vacant lot in Pawtucket for 14 years, the Silver Top diner may be transformed back into a restaurant.

The classic dive was auctioned to the highest bidder Wednesday – for a price of $30,500.

Built in the 1930s, the diner was a staple in downtown Providence for more than six decades, until it was forced from its original location in 2002. It has remained shuttered in an empty lot in Pawtucket since then.

Joe Olivelli put the winning bid on behalf of his friends – who own a burger restaurant in North Attleboro but who are out of town on vacation.

“They have a restaurant, so this seemed like a good choice to redo this and keep it in Rhode Island, instead of seeing it scrapped. So, I’m glad it’s being done,” Olivelli said.

Olivelli said the winning bidders wished to remain anonymous for now.silver-top-diner

The winning bidder has 90 days to move the diner from its current location.

“It’ll be over when the diner rolls down the street on a flatbed. That’s when it will be over. But today was a big step in a good direction to get this diner back in use,” said Michael Cassidy, Pawtucket’s former planning director.

Eyewitness News has learned the new owners plan to reopen the Silver Top as a restaurant, but not in Pawtucket. The planned location is unknown.

The auction was bittersweet for Patricia Brown, the former owner of the Silver Top.

“Oh, we had some good memories here. It was hysterical,” she said. “We were buys. I kept my prices really low, we had a really good clientele. We were jam packed from when we opened until we closed in the morning.”

Buying the diner is the easy part. Architects who’ve transformed old diners into new restaurants say it can cost half-a-million dollars to do it right, according to The Associated Press.