Comfort food, served with side of nostalgia

‘Its look and menu are right out of ‘Happy Days.’”

Another national restaurant company has set its sights on Rhode Island, bypassing Boston. More

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FOOD SERVICE

Comfort food, served with side of nostalgia

‘Its look and menu are right out of ‘Happy Days.’”

Posted 1/30/12

(Corrected, Jan. 30)

Another national restaurant company has set its sights on Rhode Island, bypassing Boston.

5 & Diner is de-scribed as an authentic, ’50s-style diner-restaurant concept. The company, which moved its headquarters from Arizona to Maynard, Mass., has identified Providence as a key market in its franchising growth strategy. The chain started in 1989 as a one-store concept in Phoenix. Its look and menu are right out of “Happy Days,” complete with neon signs and burger platters.

With comfort food as the go-to cuisine these days, the idea of an all-American diner that serves breakfast and lunch with a side of nostalgia has much to recommend it. “It’s an exciting time for 5 & Diner as we build on the success of the brand and increase momentum towards our national expansion goals,” said CEO Bob Watson, a franchisee who bought the company with his wife, Laurie Watson, in 2008. “To ensure a long, happy partnership, we make certain our franchise partners meet stringent criteria and share our values.”

Those values include patience. The franchisee proceeding requires an investment of time, as well as capital. The Watsons insist on prospective franchisees visiting existing diners, as well as the Maynard base of operations and support center.

Among other hard-and-fast rules, 5 & Diner restaurants serve no alcohol. Existing operators enthuse about the spirit of the decade of the ’50s the diner conveys with its chrome lights, juke box, jump ropes and open seating, along with on-site events like sock hops and classic car shows.

Popular dishes on the menu include Mrs. Cleaver’s Pot Roast, the Big Bopper Burger, Cadillac Meatloaf and proprietary recipes for malts and shakes. 5 & Diner has 12 locations in five states: Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma and Worcester, Mass.

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