The historic Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff, Arizona, recently reopened after it shuttered in August 2019 during a supposedly temporary closure for renovations.
The restaurant’s longtime manager, Will Pillen, reopened the diner after previous owner JB’s Family Restaurants Inc. declared bankruptcy and shut it down.
The Arizona Daily Sun, based in Flagstaff, reported:
Pillen continued managing the diner until 2014, but when he heard the news that JB’s Inc. would be filing for bankruptcy, he said he began making preparations for how he might be able to keep the diner open. By November of 2019, Pillen said he had officially taken control.
As Pillen worked to reopen the diner this year, he said he didn’t want customers to return to something unrecognizable.
“I didn’t want to change anything, but I wanted to make it so that it was clean. Clean is something that I really focus on, I want a clean, safe environment for both customer and employee,” Pillen said. “So people will come back and say, ‘oh, it’s the same,’ because that’s what people wanted. In this town, no, don’t change anything.”
Still, now that he owns the diner, Pillen said he has been able to make some of the repairs and improvements he wanted to make way back when he was manager. He is working to repair the neon sign.
The restaurant’s photographs of Hollywood celebrities on the Galaxy’s walls also had been supplied by Pillen because his mother once was a model in Tinseltown.
Pillen had planned to reopen the restaurant in March, but that was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Daily Sun previously reported the restaurant opened in 1958, but the retro decor wasn’t added until 1994.
Jim Hinckley’s “The Route 66 Encyclopedia” reports it opened in 1952. The book stated “it remained a near-perfect time capsule of the local diner eclipsed by chain restaurants and franchises beginning in the late 1950s.”
(An image of the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff, Arizona, by paul stumpr via Flickr)