Debbie Thibault kicked off February in a big way. On the first of the month, she celebrated her birthday. The next day, she purchased the building Deb’s Bristol Diner has called home since December 2014.
“It feels really, really good,” Thibault said. “I’m very happy to be here, I like the area, and I love the people.”
While the purchase has been a long time coming, it almost happened even sooner, Thibault said. The previous owner, Barrett Silver, asked her if she was interested in buying the building a few years ago. They went through all the preparations for the sale.
“And when it got down to the signing, I panicked,” Thibault said.
It was around the time she had closed Deb’s Diner in Waldoboro in 2018. The building was on the market, and Thibault decided to close the diner she operated for 16 years.
“I hadn’t been long out of my place in Waldoboro and I was still upset about that, so I couldn’t sign the papers,” Thibault said.
Silver understood, she said, and they dropped the conversation for the time being.
In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Maine and restaurants closed temporarily, Thibault decided to approach Silver again.
“I figured ‘what the heck,’” Thibault said. “If I wanted to do stuff with the building, I realized I was going to have to buy it.”
The sale process restarted in 2021. There were a few projects that needed to be completed before the bank signed off on the sale, like putting on a new roof.
The evening of Feb. 2, Thibault announced the purchase of the building on the Deb’s Bristol Diner Facebook page. Congratulations, kudos, and messages of support immediately began pouring in from regulars, neighbors, and members of the local business community.
“Before this, when I talked to people, they wanted me to buy the building because they didn’t want me to leave,” Thibault said. “The diner is very community oriented. It’s a place to meet your neighbors, both new and old.”
Even after two decades, Thibault still enjoys cooking. While Deb’s Bristol Diner has a menu, she does most of her cooking from the chalkboard listing the day’s specials.
“I tell people that if they came to my house, they would eat the exact same way because I cook like I’m at home. And I’ve had customers come to my house for breakfast in the morning and they get the exact same thing.”
Thibault has a soft spot for all of her customers, from “Diner Dave,” a regular who reads the crew their horoscopes in the morning as they cut the crust off his toast, to someone who swings by minutes after closing and asks for a to-go sandwich while the grill is still hot.
“They’re a spoiled lot,” she said with a laugh.
But Thibault’s care goes beyond the diner’s walls. She’s delivered eggs Benedict to a customer who was unable to get to the restaurant on her way home and taught a different customer how to poach their own eggs in the diner’s kitchen after they confessed to not knowing how to do so. Once, she enlisted her son and a few of his friends to move office furniture from a customer’s home to Miles in Motion Thrift Shop in Damariscotta.
“I just like doing things for my customers and making people happy,” Thibault said.
As it warms up, Thibault plans to tidy around the outside of the building and perhaps add a few more tables for outdoor dining. She hopes to be able to stay open until 2 p.m. sometime in the near future.
There are, however, some things she doesn’t plan on changing.
“I don’t want to change the character of the place and have it look brand new,” Thibault said. “I want people to enjoy the atmosphere and the feeling they get when they walk in the door.”
Deb’s Bristol Diner, at 1267 Bristol Road, is open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. The diner is closed on Monday.
For more information, call 563-8005 or find Deb’s Bristol Diner on Facebook.