Gibby’s Diner in Duanesburg closes after nearly 70 years

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No restaurant is as unique and intrinsic to the American culinary scene as a diner. It’s rare to travel more than a few dozen miles on an American highway without coming across a restaurant, ranging from a hole in the wall to a gleaming chrome dining car reminiscent of the heyday of the genre. The restaurant often becomes a community hub, a collective third space where families gather, news and gossip is shared, and teenagers find their first job.

So when a community loses its restaurant, the ripple effect is as palpable as the smell of bacon and coffee when the restaurant door opens.

After 69 years of continuous operation, Gibby’s Diner in Duanesburg’s Quaker Street Hamlet has closed that door, for good. December 12 was the last day of service, leading to a line of gloomy patrons that stretched well past the original chrome-and-glass art deco door and spilled into the parking lot. Owners Glen and Colleen Glindmyer made the decision years ago to eventually leave the restaurant because the rigors of running a restaurant got in their way as they got older. The married couple are both 66 and their only child, Eva Youker, 43, knew that although she had spent her entire life working at Gibby, it was not a lifestyle she wanted to adopt until at his own retirement.

“Eva has always wanted to be in a restaurant. When she was a baby, we put her high chair at the end of the dish line and she sat there all day and dried the silverware. She loved it,” Glen said.

Gibby’s, says Glen, ran in the blood of the family: the restaurant was opened on July 9, 1952 by Gilbert “Gibby” Wolfe, Colleen’s father. Wolfe fulfilled a childhood dream of opening a restaurant when he filled the road front of his farm with ditch fill, providing a foundation for the New Jersey-built dining car (the “Mountain View Diner number 307”) since known as Gibby’s. Dinner. Wolfe eventually passed the restaurant on to his daughter and son-in-law.

“We had a handshake for 20 years before we put anything on paper,” Glen said. After his military service and time in Austin, Texas, Wolfe called on the Glindmyers to return to Duanesburg and take over the business in the early 1980s. The Glindmyers officially became owners in 1997.

Food to flock

Glen did most of the cooking, while Colleen served the tables and baked the pies and breads that Gibby’s was known for.


Together, the Glindmyers carried on Gibby’s legacy by doing as much from scratch as possible. Dinners came with small loaves of homemade bread and lots of butter. Youker made cinnamon rolls that rarely lasted the whole weekend. Some of Gibby’s most notable menu items come out of sheer necessity. The breakfast sandwich, an oversized version of the capital region’s breakfast staple, was served on a toasted kaiser bun with a steak knife impaled in the center to hold everything in place. “It came about because I was frustrated that the sandwich was holding together. Once the cheese melts on the egg, it causes the top of the roll to slide. One day I just took a knife to steak and I planted it in the middle and decided that was how we handled it,” Glen said. Gibby’s breakfast sandwich has made appearances on many “best of and crowdsourced breakfast sandwiches from the region, including an investigation into the topic for the Times Union in March 2021.

Other items were menu staples because they adhered to the idea that quality food should be offered at a fair price, an approach passed on to the Glindmyers by Wolfe. “I’ve always run into pretty high food costs. You can ask my accountant about it,” Glen joked.

The turkey breast, roasted on the spot and sliced ​​into perfect consistency for beloved club sandwiches and roast turkey dinners (the meat was nestled on islands of mashed potatoes and stuffed sausages in a sea of ​​gravy rich) was a customer favorite. The turkey dinner became a mainstay at Gibby’s after Christmas 1953, when Wolfe began selling the dinners for $3 each.

Kevin and Judy Clapp, from Guilderland, came over for a final turkey dinner (and takeaway cinnamon roll) on the last Friday of duty. They were regulars at Gibby’s, traveling west on US Route 20, then hanging left in the center of town on US Route 7, at least twice a month. “It’s the food. It’s hard to find food this good in a restaurant,” Kevin said. Judy was hopeful the new property would arrive soon, but acknowledged that part of the appeal was the welcoming environment provided by the Glindmyer family.

“Maybe it will just change owners, but the atmosphere won’t be the same,” she said.

But a dedication to putting customer satisfaction through good food above the bottom line was part of the reason Gibby has retained generations of customers for seven decades.

Except for breakfast: unlike many other diners, Gibby’s only served breakfast until 11:30 a.m. daily. “We are very particular about how we serve breakfast. If a kid came in and wanted a smiley face pancake, we make an exception, but otherwise it’s hard to make pancakes when you’re making a burger. The quality isn’t the same,” Glen said, and Youker echoed the sentiment. “It was hard to get people to understand that it was about quality,” she said.

precious memories

The Gibby family talk about their time in the present tense, despite the restaurant being firmly and permanently closed. The restaurant still looks the same, with the silver and mint green interior as pristine as ever. The neon sign that shone like a beacon atop a hill above the town of Helderbergs of 6,400 people has faded, but not a speck of dust has had a chance to settle there. inside. Elvis concert posters, photos and articles about Gibby-sponsored stock car racing teams still hang on the walls, but Gibby’s heavy, prized coffee mugs that lined the back counter and window of entry have been sold or given away. Where the restaurant once glowed in the dark like a rural version of Edward Hopper’s famous ‘Nighthawks’ painting, the restaurant is now a shell of memory, filled with photos of treasured patrons that hang in a box of glazed shade above the counter.

The Murphy-Bisnett family gathered for one last Gibby dinner before closing. Cindy Bisnett of Knox was a lifelong patron. “I’ve been coming here for 42 years,” she says, and her parents, Larry and Peggy Murphy, have been regulars on Friday and Saturday nights for just as long.

“My dad was friends with Gibby. My dad owned an ice cream shop called Walt’s Ice Cream and Gibby came and bought him ice cream to serve here because we made our own ice cream,” Larry said. haddock dinners, “because it’s healthy and it’s good,” he says. Even with health in mind, he always saved room for Colleen’s pies, especially peach raspberries when it was in season.

Bisnett said she’s also a fan of hot turkey dinner — so much so that she and her husband, Torry Bisnett, had their wedding rehearsal dinner at Gibby’s. “It’s the environment. It’s always been friendly, with an intimate feeling. Because we meet people here that we don’t normally see, we can catch up with them. Now where will I see them? she says.

“It’s like an episode of ‘Cheers’ without the bar,” her husband said.

next moves

The Glindmyers live in Rotterdam Junction, while Youker and his family live in Amsterdam. They won’t be as present on Quaker Street and greater Duanesburg, but the personal ties run deep and will be maintained. Colleen’s older brother, Denny, owns Wolfe’s Market, a small general store with take-out restaurants a short walk away. Gibby Wolfe died in 2014 and is buried in the cemetery behind the restaurant, where his headstone is engraved with an image of the restaurant’s facade.

“Gibby closed the restaurant for two months every winter and went to West Palm Beach. He could do it because we were here to take care of things,” Glen said. Before he died, Wolfe took Glen aside and said, “I know how you are. You are stubborn and German. Know when it’s time,” Glen said.

“I felt relieved (when he said that),” he said, and knowing that Gibby would approve of his and Colleen’s eventual retirement made closing the restaurant and selling the building that much. easier.

Colleen and Glen plan to travel and acclimatize to a less demanding life, while Youker has taken a job with New York State and is looking forward to being more there for her two children, aged 15 and 17 years old.

“It’s become too much. It’s too hard on family life. I feel like I’ve missed a lot. Now I have to make up for it. Working for the state feels like a part-time job (compared to Gibby’s),” Youker said.

The family’s legacy extends well beyond the walls of the restaurant. At Carver Companies, an Altamont-based marine, aggregates and construction company, owner Carver Laraway said he always hires someone who works at Gibby’s Diner. “Employees seemed to have been there forever. They are caring, dedicated and loyal. We would be honored to hire them,” Laraway said, and he credits those attributes and strong work ethic to the guidance that Wolfe, and later the Glindmyers, instilled in their employees. News of Gibby’s closing was communicated to staff well in advance, but the public announcement came days before closing, on Facebook. (The post garnered more than 350 comments of well-wishes and memories from Gibby’s Diner fans.) While many assumed the pandemic was the cause of the restaurant’s closure, the family has been diligent in setting the record straight. on time.

“We always kind of carried on, and then when the pandemic hit we had to show that we can recover and people will support you. But we kept coming back to the fact that it was time (to move on),” Colleen said. The building is currently for sale and the family hopes new life will come to the restaurant and support the community for future generations.

Glen said all the recipes were in his head and not written down, but he would be willing to help the new owners transition into the role. “I don’t want to hold anyone’s hand or tie anyone’s hands,” he said, but he believes his family has kept the business going and built enough that success will easily pass to the next owners.

“The foundations are laid. They just have to have the work ethic. he said.

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