MILFORD- After a bittersweet acquisition of her family’s diner, Maria Pagelos-Wall and her family have spent the last three years breathing life back into the 1950s-style diner with love, great food, and memories from the community and visitors. The nostalgia of the diner has also brought two star-crossed lovers together and the couple, Frank Ostlinger and Yvonne La Forge, will wed at the Village Diner, located at 268 Route 6 & 209 in Milford, on Saturday, December 21st.
"Yvonne and Frank have been coming to the diner, almost since my brother, Agie, and I took it over," said Maria Pagelos-Wall, one of the owners of the diner. "I first noticed them when they came in and sat on the same side of the booth. I thought, wow, they must really be in love because that is something my husband and I have always done. We all became fast friends because, that is just me. I know it’s a bit ironic, but I am a Greek in the diner business and I absolutely LOVE what I do and it shows."
••• How it began
Frank and Yvonne’s story begins a couple of decades back at a bus station in Colorado. Frank, born in Sweden, came to the United States as an exchange student as a high school senior and then came back to attend college. After he graduated college, he went back to visit his high school host family in Colorado and, while at a bus station, met the love of his life, but didn’t quite know it.
"I was being accosted by a man at the bus station and Frank saved me," said Yvonne. "We spent 10 hours together on a bus talking, laughing and we even shared a kiss, but being that Frank was a few years older than me and I was just starting college, the timing was just not right. We remained friends and became pen-pals over the years, but our lives went in different directions. We both married other people and had a rough middle of our lives apart, but when we reconnected, we realized that you can meet your soul mate at a chance encounter when you’re a teenager."
A connection was made on Facebook between the two in January of 2010, after they had both been divorced, and their first date was in June of 2010, when Frank came for a visit from Canada. Yvonne had found the Village Diner with her kids and fell in love with the 1950’s décor, the food and the family atmosphere. She immediately knew that Frank would love it too.
••• Loves diners
"The Village Diner is so great," added Yvonne. "It’s like your kitchen away from home. The people are always happy and friendly, and I have never had a bad meal here, ever. Frank and I come here whenever he is in town and after only a few visits, we became good friends with Maria. When Frank suggested that we host our wedding there, I thought it was going to be an imposition, but the more I thought about it, I couldn’t imagine having it anywhere else."
Maria’s fascination with diners started at an early age. She traveled everywhere with her family and they loved going to different diners, on a trip to Connecticut with her father, Dimitrios Pagelos, they stopped at the Village Diner. Maria immediately fell in love with the retro look and feel of the diner and on her high school graduation, back in 1990, her father purchased the diner as a surprise.
"It was a really great surprise and just another way that my father and I spent time together," said Maria. "My father and I were very close and we just had this love of original 50s diners, so I worked there seven days a week with him the summer before I went to college and it was magical."
Over the years, Dimitrios’ health declined and Maria and her brother Agie took the diner over in 2010.
••• About the diner
The well-preserved Village Diner has kept the architectural and historic value of the property in tact over the years. Built by The Mountain View Diner Company, it has retained the iconic stainless steel and red-trim, complete with corner scrolls and fluted stainless roofline. It’s been quoted in the Diners of Pennsylvania book that, "The interior, a composition in pink and gray is just as pristine [as the outside]. Tiles in those color cover not only the lower walls and counter base, but also the bases of the seats in the booths. The tile floor is gray, interspersed with occasional squares of pink. The backbar is furnished with sunburst pattern stainless steel, and the curved ceiling with pink trim is illuminated with recessed lighting."
Village Diner will host its first wedding on Saturday, December 21st for Frank and Yvonne, featuring a french fry bar, classic Greek foods, and Maria’s locally famous pies.
For more information about Village Diner you can follow them on Facebook @Village-Diner, visit them online at www.villagedinermilfordpa.com, or call them at 570-491-2819. Diner hours are seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.