The Gaines Diner (Photo by Monica Zalaznik / My Buckhannon)

Iconic Gaines Diner set to reopen in southern Upshur County in August

BUCKHANNON – A southern Upshur County staple will make its return this August.

For years, the Gaines Diner provided a warm and welcoming meal to those who adventured into the southwestern corner of Upshur County. But the restaurant closed in November 2022 after the establishment’s longtime owner, Janice Chidester, passed away.

Now, new owner Amy Wilson-Detamore plans to bring back the home-cooked meals and friendly environment that made the Gaines Diner so popular.

“I think what kept bringing people back was the atmosphere, and Janice was an excellent cook,” Detamore said. “It was homey. My message is, ‘You’ll come as a customer and leave as family.’”

The restaurant is scheduled to open in early August, but customers will be asked to bring cash because the building has not received an internet connection yet.

“I’m going to serve home-cooked food, just like Janice did it,” Detamore said. “I know people loved Janice — they loved her so much — and I’m not so much filling her shoes but trying to step into what she created.”

Detamore plans to host special events and offer discounts to veterans and senior citizens.

“I am going to offer a senior citizen’s discount and a veteran’s discount, and on Veterans Day, any veteran who comes in here, they will eat for free,” she said. “I plan on having car cruise-ins, like Janice did, and a bunch of different things.”

Detamore said she has known the Chidester family her whole life, and both she and her mother worked in the diner previously.

“My mom worked for Janice,” Detamore said. “She started when she first opened, and I worked for her for a little bit, just to help her out. But my mom’s 78 years old, so she retired. This has been my dream, I’ve always wanted to do this. I’ve cooked and waitressed almost all my life, so I decided, why not do it? You only live once, so why not do it? This is a very good opportunity, especially for me, and I’m blessed with the Chidester family; they are such great people.”

Detamore said she has been flooded with support since she announced the reopening of the diner.

“I made that post on Facebook, and it spread very fast; I woke up that morning to 80 messages asking me when I was going to open,” Detamore said. “I’m not even talking about Facebook comments, I’m talking about messages from people wanting to know when we’re going to open. People don’t realize how many elders are on this end of the county, and I’m talking about single women, single men, who go to the restaurant because they don’t want to cook. A lot of them would come in and sit for hours when Janice was open and talk and just to have somewhere to go, and now, they’ll have somewhere else to go.”

Detmaore encouraged the community to pay the diner a visit and try three new, unique dishes.

“There are going to be three sandwiches that are mine, that are not served anywhere else on this side of the county, and they are going to be an opening day surprise,” Detamore said.

The Gaines Diner can be found at 2053 Gaines Road, and Detamore plans to create a Facebook page that will list hours, specials and future events.

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