Blue Star Diner
Warwick Boulevard at Rivermont Drive
Newport News, VA

I've seen in your wonderful newsletter some photos around Newport News. I have a few on my online gallery, so I thought I'd share one with some other Typhoons.

You can view the photo online at
 The link I'm sending is of an interior shot
of the Blue Star Diner on Warwick Boulevard near Huntington Park. You know, the park where some of us used to go on Friday nights to watch the submarine races! The Blue Star was one of my favorite places in Newport News.
Newport News: A Centennial History
John V. Quarstein and Parke Rouse, Jr.,
City of Newport News, 1996.
Saturday, August 14, 2004

It takes a lot more than some ol' hurricane (Charley)
to shut down the MAGI-CAM.

Brian Beachum ('72) of VA - 08/12/04
Thanks, Brian!
Courtesy of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/17/05
Thanks, Dave!
Image by Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 08/14/04
Thanks, Dave!  Only you!

Nice addition to the Old Stomping Grounds. You may recall that a movie was filmed at the Blue Star Diner
quite a few years ago. I do not recall the name of it. The filming caused quite a stir since few movies were made
on the Peninsula.

 - Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 08/14/04
Thanks, Joe!  I did not know that!

There was a film starring Isabella which was filmed in Gloucester in 1988. That would have provided an opportunity
to film in a period diner, such as Blue Star. It was "Zelly and Me".

I saw it long ago, so I cannot recall if Blue Star was in it.  Will hafta rent it.  I do recall that one of the three folks
in the ubiquitous Haynes' Furniture advertisements had a bit part.  He is Dwayne, the goofy
one, in those ads.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 08/18/04
Thanks, Dave!  You da man!

Carol, Not only do I remember the Blue Star Diner, as a long time peninsula resident, I still go there!! 
It is the one place you can get a great meal for $5!!  To quote Jack Paar, "I kid you not." 
Now, in today's carb conscious world, the meal you get can't be eaten by those who are counting. 
But a large piece of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and a green veggie
(several to pick from) with a roll and coffee or tea has to be the best bargain around. 
So you save your carbs from one day and eat there the next!  Whatever works.

- Kathleen Pilgrim Clark ('63) of VA - 08/18/04
SUPER!  Thanks, Kathy!

Hi Carol - Dave got the right movie (thank goodness - it was driving me crazy). 
I remember that they put some kind of a tarp over the whole diner so it would look like night (I guess). 
What is even more amazing is that I remember this bit of trivia - why, I don't know. Thanks.

- Jo Ann Stewart ('64) of TX - 08/19/04
Thanks, Jo Ann!  I LOVE trivia!,0,2376480.story

Be sure to see page 2 of the article.

This is great news and certainly worthy of publishing in a Newsletter.


Company plans to bring Blue Star Diner back to its 1950s luster

Dust off your saddle shoes and bobby socks.

The Blue Star Diner, now closed, is slated to undergo a renovation restoring it to its 1950s glory.

Dulles-based Belleville Diners last week put a contract on the property and hopes to close on it within about two months. Then, the company will embark on restoring it, said Michael Lessin, managing director of Belleville Diners.

"Our plan is to restore that diner back to how it originally looked," Lessin said. "We're big believers in keeping the diners original and true to how a classic, American diner should look."

Blue Star Diner waitress Judy Presley is pictured in this 2002 archive photo. The restaurant closed last month and is under contract to a company that plans to restore the diner to its 1950s glory. It opened in Newport News in 1963. The Blue Star Diner in Newport News is under contract to a Dulles-based company that plans to restore and reopen it. It was closed for about a year and a half after a 2005 fire, shown here. It reopened in 2007 and closed last month. The Blue Star Diner, pictured here before its 2007 reopening after a 2005 fire, is under contract by a Dulles-based company with plans to restore and reopen it. The restaurant, which opened in Newport News in 1963, closed last month.

The Blue Star is a prefabricated diner built in 1958 by Manno Dining Car Co. in Belleville, N.J., which is Belleville Diner's namesake. Former owners Angelo and Fannie Blentson opened the restaurant in 1961 in Woodstock, Va., before moving it to Newport News.

It opened here in 1963, according to Daily Press archives.

It's a local landmark that's found some national attention.

Isabella Rossellini and David Lynch sat at a booth there while filming parts of the movie "Zelly and Me" in 1987. "Blue Plate Special: The American Diner Cookbook," written by Elizabeth McKeon and Linda Everett in 1996, features recipes and a brief overview of the diner.

For 46 years, the restaurant was owned by the Blentsons. Angelo Blentson died in 1991.

A small kitchen fire closed the place for about a year and a half in December 2005. It reopened in 2007 under new management.

Shortly after Fannie Blentson died in September, the property went on the market, and the restaurant closed in January.

It caught the eye of Belleville Diners, which keeps tabs on old diners in

"There are so few of them remaining," Lessin said.

One of its related companies is restoring the 1948 Triangle Diner in Winchester, which was recently added to the Virginia Landmarks Register and is awaiting inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, Lessin said.

Lessin estimates it'll take about $200,000 to fix up the Blue Star.

"In general, the building is in good shape," Lessin said. "It really just needs to be cleaned up a bit. It'll probably take about six months to a year to get it fixed up and open."

The Blue Star has a sloped roof that was added to the building. Other than that, the key diner components are there and historically correct. The booths are original, along with the countertop, curved Formica ceiling and exterior of stainless steel and blue enamel.

The neon sign out front will need to be fixed.

"The 'D-I-N' lights up. We plan to get the 'E' and the 'R' to work as well," Lessin said.

Once it opens, it'll serve up the usual diner fare, with an emphasis on quality.

"A lot of diners in America, I think their food quality has gone down in the last few decades," Lessin said. "We're passionate about a quality product. A lot of people eat at diners every day, and we want it to be good for them."

Pat Perkinson, 67, was delighted to hear the old diner will be revived.

"It's too precious of a piece of history to just ignore and push on the side somewhere," the Newport News resident said.

Perkinson "fell in love with Fannie's food, and then Fannie," she said. Perkinson, a retired school teacher, even worked there summers and one night a week because she enjoyed the place so much, she said.

During the restaurant's heyday, the place was packed at lunchtime and from 4:30 p.m. until close, but it wasn't the same after the 2005 fire, Perkinson said.

Belleville plans to set up a
page and Web site ( for folks to keep track of the progress.

"We like to get suggestions from people as well," Lessin said. "If anyone has old photos, we would love to get as many old photos as possible, just so we can see how it used to look to make sure that all the restoration that we do is historically correct."

Blue Star history

1961: Angelo and Fannie Blentson buy a prefabricated diner building and open the business in Woodstock, Va.

1963: The Blentsons move the restaurant to Newport News.

1988: Isabella Rossellini and David Lynch appear in a booth at the Blue Star in the movie "Zelly and Me."

1996: "Blue Plate Special: The American Diner Cookbook" is published, including a recipe and history of the Blue Star.

December 2005: A small fire breaks out at the restaurant, and it closes.

May 2007: The Blue Star Diner opens under new management.

January 2010: The diner closes.

February 2010: The property is under contract to a buyer who plans to restore and reopen the diner.

Copyright 2010, Newport News, Va., Daily Press

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 02/26/10
Thank you so much, Dave! 

Here's a recent article about the BLUE STAR DINER that some of you might enjoy. Many people have fond memories of that eatery and its owners.  (Strangely enough, I can't recall ever eating there but once. I seldom ate out in my youth.)
Notice that 63 First Decader Pat Perkinson is quoted in the article.
(Miss Marple just HAD to correct the headline.)

- Jane Chambers of VA - 03/07/10
Thanks, Jane! 

Friday, February 26, 2010

From Will Moore's - 01/28/12:

According to the research compiled by the alumni of Newport News High School, The Blue Star Diner was built as a prefabricated diner in New Jersey in 1958 by Manno Dining Car Company.  It opened in 1961 in Woodstock, VA by Angelo and Fannie Blentson, then it moved to Newport News in 1963.  It was used as a set in the 1987 movie "Zelly and Me" and featured in 1996's "Blue Plate Special: The American Diner Cookbook."  The Blentson's owned the Blue Star for 46 years and the building was closed in December of 2005 after a small fire.  In 2007, the restaurant reopened under new management, but closed in January 2010.  The next month, the Daily Press reported that the restaurant was under contract to be purchased by Belleville Diners from Dulles, VA.  Reportedly, this group was interested in restoring the diner to it's '1950s' glory and planned to reopen the Blue Star within 6 months. 

Fast forward to 2012...  The Blue Star building is slowly decaying, with no signs of work being done.  When I attempted to contact Belleville Diners for the sake of this article, I could find no way to reach them.  Their website contains no information about their organization, nor does it mention any plans for the crumbling diner.  I also tried calling the number listed for them online three times and there was no answer.  It is my concern that the diner will continue to deteriorate as no plan of action for its preservation appears to be taking place.  It would be a great loss to the area if this building were allowed to fade into oblivion.

Thanks, Will! 

Blue Skies

- Words and Music by Irving Berlin

Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin' a song
Nothin' but bluebirds all day long

Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things goin' so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothin' but blue skies from now on
Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see

Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things goin' so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly

Blue days, all of them gone
Nothin' but blue skies from now on

This page was created on 08/14/04 at the suggestion of Brian Beachum ('72) of VA.  Thanks, Brian!

"Blue Skies" midi (Sequenced by: Redsal / Sal Grippaldi) and lyrics courtesy
at the suggestion of my daughter, Adrienne Harty of NC - 08/14/04
Thanks, Adrienne!

Large Blue Star clip art courtesy of - 09/21/09

Twirling Blue Star clip art courtesy
of - 08/14/04

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