PEABODY — The Little Depot Diner is open weekdays once again.
The tiny eatery across the street from District Court is a Peabody icon and one that’s proved remarkably resilient. A succession of owners has worked to make a go of it, most recently Jim Miles, who shut down full-time operation in 2011.
Miles sold the diner in November — he had continued serving breakfasts on the weekend — to newlyweds Ross, 28, and Alicia Scanlon, 26. And yes, the couple know all the obstacles, the hard work required, the floodwater that sometimes laps at the door, the difficulties of doing business in downtown Peabody, but nothing has dimmed their enthusiasm.
“This is a lifetime dream of ours,” Ross said as he prepared to cook two dropped eggs on toast for a customer.
“When you do what you love,” Alicia said, “it doesn’t feel like work.”
“It was getting time to let someone else take over,” said Miles, who continues to be a booster for the diner. “We found the right people.”
Modeled after a streetcar, the diner was built in 1929 and has been located in Peabody for more than half a century. Its bright and clean interior honors the past with Moxie posters (including one featuring Ted Williams); ads for Camp Coffee; and a Lionel train mounted just below the ceiling, which, at the flick of a switch, travels the circumference of the dining area.
“The previous owner did a very good job remodeling,” Ross Scanlon said. “It was a turnkey operation for us.” He hopes to retain a lot of the business and good will that Miles had gained.
“They come highly recommended,” noted customer Richard Regiteno, who owns Point of View Optical on Foster Street. “They’ve served enough people so far that the word is getting out there.”
He gave a look around and added, “The atmosphere is great. The train is great.”
“We do train-shaped pancakes,” Ross said, noting their popularity with the kids.
The Scanlons live in Medfield but hope to move soon to Peabody. Ross has some experience in food service, having sold hot dogs from carts in Framingham and Medfield. “And I did a lot of catering.”
Steamed hot dogs and rolls will be a specialty at The Little Depot Diner.
Ross promises good local food, like Old Neighborhood hot dogs from Lynn or milk and dairy products from Pure Country “right up the road” in Peabody. By summer, he hopes to have a takeout window to boost that side of the business.
The couple expect to get plenty of help from their families. Alicia is considering a careful demarcation of responsibilities, lest they suffer an overdose of togetherness from working side by side all day long. She’s responsible for waitressing and sympathizing with customers. Ross cooks.
“Everyone’s been super-supportive,” Alicia said. “Very positive.”