742 Hope Street, Bristol
(401) 253-1759

The Hope Diner doesn't look like a classic manufactured diner from the outside. Not from the inside, either. But believe it or not, under all that wood, paint, and suspended ceiling lurks a vintage early-1930s Worcester lunch car—wheels, tin ceiling, and all.

The diner was opened by Alfred Duffy on Bradford Street, near the former Pastime Theatre, sometime prior to 1935, as Duffy's Mount Hope Diner. At sixty feet long by fifteen feet wide, Duffy's was probably a stock model, ordered directly out of the Worcester Lunch Car Company catalog. It's not clear, however, if Alfred Duffy was the first owner.

(Side note: The current owners showed us a photo of an older model dining cart that was printed with a 1998 East Bay Window article. The caption identifies the cart as Duffy's Mount Hope Diner and credits the photo to the American Diner Museum. The diner in the photo, however, has no name painted on it and is much smaller than the present diner. We wonder if the caption is correct, and if so, if Mr. Duffy owned this mobile cart prior to purchasing the larger diner.)

In 1935 Duffy moved his diner a few blocks north to its present location. When the hurricane of '38 slammed through, the diner was nearly destroyed. Wind and water did damage directly, but the diner also suffered from being buffeted by cars that floated away from a nearby auto dealership (located where the Sip N' Dip is now). For whatever reason, Duffy chose to rebuild the diner rather than demolish it and replace it with another. He enclosed the diner in a new wooden shell and painted it white.

The disposition of the diner between when Duffy owned it and when it was purchased by the present owners is shrouded in mystery. In another photo that we saw, which probably dates from the 1960s or '70s, the name on the diner is Paul's.

Around 1982 the diner was bought by Mickey and Dorothy Silva and they, along with daughter Lorene and son Bobby, continue to run it today. Mickey mans the grill and dispenses eggs, jokes, and political commentary in pretty much equal measure, while Lorene, as head waitress, more or less lends some form of order to the proceedings.

When we visited one day in October 2007 the diner appeared to be in chaos, with several conversations taking place at once between patrons and wait staff while food sizzled and plates passed back and forth. A little girl, goddaughter of one of the Silvas, was endeavoring to get anywhere she wasn't allowed to be, and customers good naturedly pitched in to corral her. When we revealed we were writing an article on the diner, Lorene pulled out a large manila envelope filled with newspaper articles and old photos of the diner and its staff. As we looked through them we felt as though we had walked in on the reunion of an extended family at which everyone is welcome. Apparently that's just the way it is every day at the Hope.

Among the notable offerings on the menu are various chourico preparations, Portuguese sweet bread French toast, Portuguese muffins, coffee milk, and the "house specialty," the O'Doris, an English muffin topped with one egg, melted cheese, and ham, bacon, or sausage, served with home fries. There's also the Bobby 'O, a veggie omelet made with peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. Much of the food is fresh and homemade, including their corned beef, Italian sausage, chourico, and fish hashes. The latter two were specials when we last visited. Stuffies are occasionally available, as well.

On June 2, 2008, the Hope was featured on the Rhode Island PBS show New England Portrait.

The Hope Diner is open 6am-2pm Tuesday through Friday, and 6am-1pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Awards

Providence Phoenix: Best place to get egged on (1999).
Rhode Island Monthly's Readers' Poll: Best Diner in the East Bay (1995, 2001-2004), Best Breakfast Place in the East Bay (2003).

What’s nearby

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