Red Arrow Diner History

The Red Arrow Diner first opened its doors on Lowell Street in Manchester, NH back in October 1922. The founder and original owner was David Lamontagne, who was married to Mabel. At one point in time in the 1950s, there were a total of six Red Arrow locations throughout the Queen City and Nashua! The name Levi Letendre also goes hand-in-hand with the Red Arrow Diner. Levi worked for the Red Arrow for many years, then eventually bought it from the Lamontagnes, and ran it successfully until his retirement in 1978. His legacy continues to carry on at the Red Arrow. After two more owners and with the economic challenges of the early 80s, the Red Arrow became vacant for the first time in over 60 years. In 1985, the diner was listed for sale, along with many other downtown businesses. In September 1987, Carol became the proud 5th owner of this historic city landmark. As a young business owner, Carol looked for guidance from her dad, George, who was operating Belmont Hall at the time. With his help and the help of others, the Red Arrow Diner tradition continues.

The local diner is the focal point of any community and the Red Arrow is certainly no exception. We have always been on the cutting edge in the diner arena. In May 1998, Carol made the decision to go “Smoke-Free.” This was absolutely unheard of in the restaurant business but after researching the concept, Carol believed this was the future of dining. Although it was a little nerve-racking, especially as we were picketed in the wee hours of the morning on the day we started, the results were nothing short of spectacular! In September of that same year, we were voted “One of the Top Ten Diners in the Country” by USA Today. People traveled from all over the world and included the Red Arrow Diner on the list of places they must visit. Ask to see our guest book or read the framed news articles from as far away as Japan!

With all of our success, and perhaps for reasons we cannot easily explain, all kinds of celebrities flock to our doors. From Paul Newman to RuPaul, the diner walls are literally overflowing with framed pictures of our famous visitors! We are a favorite of Manchester’s very own Adam Sandler, of whom we are extremely proud. Be sure to check out his movies Eight Crazy Nights and Grown Ups 2 to spot the Red Arrow Diner! When Bare Naked Ladies came to town, they were so impressed that they wrote and performed a song about the Red Arrow Diner on stage at the Verizon Arena. Local musician Matt Farley also recorded a song about the Red Arrow Diner on his CD, Moe’s Haven. We were honored and excited when the Lowell Street location was officially named a Manchester NH City Landmark in 2000. In 2007, we hosted Guy Fieri, host of the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. His visit brought a national spotlight to the Red Arrow Diner and helped us share what makes our diner so unique. Our episode featured our signature Blue Plate specials (which are served on an ACTUAL blue plate), delicious cream pies, whoopie pies and our very own homemade Dinah Fingers (between the four diners we make nearly 1,000 each week!). In 2019, we were excited to have our Coconut Crème Pie featured as one of the four most beloved diner desserts in the country in the March issue of Food Network Magazine. Then in May, Red Arrow Diner was featured on JEOPARDY!, in the category titled ‘Eastern Seaboard’ for the $800 Daily Double answer: White House hopefuls visit the Red Arrow Diner in this New Hampshire city that’s on the Merrimack River.

Which brings us to our next legacy: the Red Arrow Diner is also a hot spot for politician visits. During the last few first-in-the-nation primaries, most of the candidates stopped in for a visit, and many of them returned for a second or third time! We even saw the likes of Diane Sawyer (very tall, by the way), who immediately eyed our basket of Dinah Fingers. We have also hosted C-SPAN and SiriusXM during primary season to help provide our customers a front row seat to national politics. Needless to say, Red Arrow Diner is a favorite for all walks of life and a wide variety of palates!

Our delightful diner history continues to unfold. In October of 2008, Carol and George opened a second Red Arrow Diner on the oval in Milford, NH. During this time, we also operated J’s Tavern, a sports bar which was right below the Red Arrow Milford location The J stands for Carol’s son, Jesse, who you see in our Red Arrow Diner logo as well as here on the back of the menu. In 2015, we opened our third location in Londonderry, conveniently located at Exit 5 off of I-93 in a state-of-the-art travel plaza alongside a New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet. In 2016, we began plans to open a new location on Loudon Road in Concord. After nearly a year of working alongside contractors and designers to create a genuine Red Arrow Diner atmosphere, our fourth location opened in July 2017! The Red Arrow Diner Concord is conveniently located off Exit 14 of I-93. In 2019, we tearfully said goodbye to both our beloved Milford location and J’s Tavern. Our time in this wonderful community will remain a bright spot in our history. In May 2020 and during the COVID-19 pandemic, we opened the latest and largest addition is Nashua, NH, located at 149 Daniel Webster Highway.

The diners are a tremendous success, and we would like to take a moment to thank each and EVERY one of our wonderful employees and YOU, our customers. Without both of you, the Red Arrow Diner wouldn’t be where we are today! As a small token of our gratitude for nearly 100 years of support, the Red Arrow Diner is proud to share that our philanthropic efforts in our diner communities and across the state are at an all-time high to mirror the continued growth and prosperity of our brand. As part of our charitable support, the Red Arrow Diner frequently donates gift cards, food and labor, participates in community events, organizes private fundraisers, and is a founding sponsor of the annual Tower of Toys for local at-risk families.

The Red Arrow Diner has undergone many transformations since the early days, but one thing will never change. We are committed to the time-honored tradition of bringing you a delicious home-style meal with the highest of standards in quality and consistency. This is how the Lamontagne Family began the Red Arrow Diner way back in 1922, and how we will carry on for many years to come.

“Have a Diner Day!”

Carol, George, Amanda, and Tyler

Our Pledge: To Create, Cook and Serve, with Consistency and a Smile, the Most Palate Pleasing Diner Eats Known to Mankind.