Silver Top Diner saga drags on in court

The Silver Top Diner has been sitting unused in a lot in Pawtucket for 13 years.

Thirteen years ago, the Silver Top Diner was kicked off its property in Providence.

Owner, Pat Brown, picked up and moved to Pawtucket.

But, for Brown, it has been nothing but a nightmare.

The diner still hasn't opened, and it's been in and out of the courts ever since.

The historic eatery sits partially covered, weather-worn, but still standing, on Middle Street in Pawtucket.

Its next fate is to be determined in a court case on Tuesday in Providence Superior Court, Room 15, 4th floor, at 9:30 a.m. Brown hopes the court rules to prevent the City of Pawtucket from putting the diner up for auction to recoup its costs.

"I'm disgusted, you know; it's heartbreaking," Brown told NBC 10. "It's a beautiful dining car."

Brown's pro bono attorney Arthur Chatfield described what he believes is the way his client has been treated by the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency.

"These people are used to operating in this manner," Chatfield said. "I can't put it any other way."

The legendary Silver Top Diner was built in 1936. It fed workers and the late night crowd for more than six decades until it closed in 2002.

It was on rented City of Providence property to make room for the 903 Lofts, located behind Providence Place on Harris Avenue.

The City of Pawtucket invited Brown to bring the Silver Top to its town, on donated land, and secured with a $100,000 HUD loan. Brown accepted the offer.

But, resistance from neighbors, zoning issues, bungled bids, three years to make a business plan required to get a construction loan, as well as inflated costs, the diner remains unopened.

"From my vantage point, we did all we could; everyone wanted to see this happen," said Kevin Horan, the attorney for the Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency. "[We decided we had to] cut the losses because it became obvious it wasn't happening."

Barney Heath heads the P.R.A.

"The capacity wasn't there to actually do the things necessary to get a diner up and running," said Heath.

During the past eight years, there have been court cases and appeals. The last one resulted in a jury award for Brown to effectively get $100,000 for herself after she pays off the HUD loan.

Yet, the judge reversed that decision, and ordered a new trial. That trial will probably take place sometime later this year.

Brown wants compensation for the years she was closed. She'll have to prove Pawtucket was negligent.

"I feel bad for her because I know this was her dream," Horan said.

Brown awaits the court date on Tuesday. She is hoping for the best.

"I want my life back," Brown said. "I want my business back. I want my diner back. I don't think I'm wrong, and the jury didn't think I was wrong. I'm not going to stop fighting."

A GoFundMe campaign was started to save the diner.{}

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