Red Arrow Diner Legacy: The Growing Years

Almost 100 years later, the Red Arrow Diner continues to be a family-owned and operated business that values its employees and rewards their hard work. From foodie pros like Guy Fieri, comedy legends like Adam Sandler and flocks of politicians, the Red Arrow Diner continues to welcome those from all walks of life and around the world each and every day. With bustling locations in Manchester, Milford, Londonderry and Concord, the Red Arrow Diner continues to put its customers, employees and communities first. The Red Arrow Diner is definitely here to stay.

My Dad got a little bored and said “There is a diner for sale in Milford. The Milford Diner. Let’s buy it.” That’s where the partnership with my dad started. We ended up opening Milford. We learned a lot doing that.

One owner is really kind of easy. When you have two owners, you have to respect the other owner. All you have to do is listen, and those are the things – especially if it’s your daughter – it’s hard!

He comes in one day and he said “Let’s change the meatloaf recipe.” I said, “Change the meatloaf recipe? You can’t do that! What are you talking about?”

I’m not trying to change it. I want to see if we still have the best one. It has been 15 years that we have been partners. We really balance each other very well. We found our place together. He does a lot in the diners and a lot with the food. Make it better every day. You can’t go out that door without saying to yourself, “Did I make it better today?”

It started with the Manchester location, then my dad came and we bought Milford together. Then, he said, “Let’s do another one!” I said “What? Another one? Okay, I guess so!” Then came Londonderry. You always step up the pace. We just kept going, and again, the opportunity came up with Concord. Let’s do it!

With being voted one of the Top 10 Diners having fun, branding the diner and getting the word out, I had the Food Network literally call and say, “Can Guy Fieri come to the diner?” “Hello? Am I going to say no to that?” And every political primary, we are the place to be for all of the news media.

Adam Sandler is a huge customer of ours. We were actually in his ‘Grownups 2’ movie. They built a set for us in Massachusetts. For myself, my family, my staff, it’s amazing because we always have a front row seat. It’s pretty cool.

I’m very proud of what we have done with the Red Arrow. It wouldn’t be what it is today without the customers and my absolute loyal employees – I have people in the Manchester location that have been with me for a long time.

I worked third shift for 20 years. Now I’ve been on first shift for quite a few years, but my customers that I waited on on third shift come in during the day. They say, “Penny, you’re still here!? I’m like “Yeah, and you’re out in the daytime!”

When you take a diner and when we’re looking for a new manager, we always try to promote from within. I learned a tremendous amount from Carol and George. Everything I know is really directly from them.

She started as a part-time receptionist and worked her way right up in the company. Works side-by-side with my dad every single day.

I became Chief Operations Officer, so I’m tasked with running the company on a day-to-day basis. The GMs meet every Thursday morning. We go over everything they’ve done and they get paid accordingly. We do an incentive plan.

My dad is 78 years old and he’s not slowing down. He wants to do a new location, and I’m like “What the heck?” I should be the one doing that. He should be the one saying “Let’s stop” but it’s the opposite.

Always bigger and better, but also keeping our roots. We always want to make sure that everything that Carol designed and created for the Red Arrow in Manchester is continued throughout. That’s why the owner-operated has worked for us, because we can keep a grasp on that and make sure that all of our customers are getting that same experience that we started with.

On their diner favorites:

I have two. The first one is a darn good hamburger. And believe me, that was this whole thing. We have pure brisket that goes in there with the highest-quality chuck you can get. Then the Haddock. Veggie Cheese Hash Brown Special.

If I were to eat breakfast food, I would have to say that it would be one of our Eggs Benedict dishes. We do lots of specials: chicken-fried steak eggs Benedict with sausage gravy. l love our liver, onions and bacon.

A Red Arrow virgin is someone that has never been here before. We find out where they came from. We ring the bell to get everybody’s attention and point them out. Everybody claps for them and then we give them stickers that say they’ve been de-virginized at the Red Arrow Diner. Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of people grow up. And they see me growing old, so what comes around goes around like I say.

To be able to work with him day in and day out, for me, I love it. Really looking back, I’m just so proud of what what we have become.