Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 12:16 PM on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Double-decker diner returns

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer


Photo by McKibben Jackinsky, Homer News

The Piccadilly Double Decker Diner has returned to Homer. After some refurbishing, the plan is to have the bus operating next summer.

The Piccadilly Double Decker Diner is home. No, not in Picadilly. In Homer.

The red, two-deck British bus, built in Bristol, located in southwest England, was first brought to Homer by Michael Blaine and operated during the 1980s and 1990s as a diner on the Spit and around Homer.

"I bought it on the East Coast and it was just a bus," said Blaine, who brought it to Alaska and converted it into a restaurant.

Employed in construction, Blaine's original plan was to run the diner as a sideline.

"It was supposed to be a little fun thing on the side, but it turned into quite the project," he said. "It was a lot of work and a lot of money, but it worked out pretty well."

Blaine operated the diner during the summers on the Spit, with the exception of a year or two when he operated it year-round in downtown Homer "to keep people working," he told the Homer News.

In addition to fish and chips, Blaine served 12 different kinds of hamburgers, clam chowder and "so many kinds of dishes nobody could believe it," he said. The offerings were so many, in fact, that it filled a menu six or seven pages in length.

"It was a fun business. The people that ate there were a fantastic kind of customers," said Blaine, adding with a laugh, "There's a certain kind of person that comes in a double-decker bus. They were always great, great customers."

An injury brought a change to Blaine's plans, however.

"I got laid up and took it (the diner) down to San Diego. I just couldn't do it anymore," he said.

Colin Lott, originally from England, recalled that when he came to Homer in 1983, the bus was parked on the Spit. Not only did he and Blaine become acquainted, Lott also was one of the diner's suppliers.

"The funny thing is, Colin was my meat guy here in Alaska," said Blaine. "He provided me all my good food."

A few years ago, Blaine and Lott were talking about the bus.

"He said it was in San Diego. I asked where, he told me and my brother went and saw it, pulled it out of the storage unit it was in and he's been working on it for about a year," said Lott of his brother Robert's efforts.

The once-shiny, two-story diner on wheels had lost some of its luster over time. Vandals had broken out some windows. Repairs were needed before it was ready to return to service. Once enough repairs were made to transport it, the Lott brothers arranged for the double-decker bus to be towed to Seattle.

"That was a bit costly," said Lott. "We were going to drive it up from San Diego, but I'm kind of glad we didn't."

The next step was to have it barged to Anchorage. Upon its arrival there, Kar-A-Van Transfer trailered the bus to the Homer Spit and on Aug. 30 it was driven to Lott's business, McNeil Canyon Meats, where it is now parked.

There is work still to be done inside the bus to return it to working-diner status. With meals prepared on the lower deck, the top deck will accommodate as many as 32 diners. Lott said he is in conversations with Harrison and Heather McHenry of Fresh Catch Café about operating the diner next summer.

"We're kind of excited," said Lott of putting the Piccadilly Double Decker Diner back to work. "This is going to be fun."

Blaine thinks so, too.

"For (Lott) to end up with it is great. He was one of my best promoters," said Blaine. "I hope he does even half as well as I did. He's a great guy and provided me with great food. I'll be his biggest fan."

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben. jackinsky@homernews.com.