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Sharon Bastille ("Mom") presents a pie. Photo: Nora Flaherty
Sharon Bastille ("Mom") presents a pie. Photo: Nora Flaherty

Mom's Schoolhouse Diner closes after a decade in West Potsdam

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For the last ten years, Sharon Bastille - better known as "Mom" - and her husband Dick have been running Mom's Schoolhouse Diner in West Potsdam. But the Mom's era will come to an end this weekend, as the diner shuts its doors after Saturday, August 17.

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"Well, I'm ready to retire, I'm ready to spend more time with family. I have 12 grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, and both our moms are single and in their 80s and they live in New England and we don't get to spend as much times as we'd like to. The long days are getting longer, and so I'm thinking it's probably better to stop while I still have my health and energy, and can go into doing something else."

Mom's has been best known for its 1950s ambience, ice cream, and community feel - as well as the fact that the Bastilles live in an RV in the lot of the schoolhouse.

Their plan now is to make over the schoolhouse into part of their private home, but Mom says they'll still be hosting lots of events for the community: "We'll be doing things such as potlucks with a hymn sing, dinner parties, Saturday morning breakfasts, maybe campfires. Oh, and our writers' group will still be meeting, it'll just be meeting in our home instead of the diner."

Bastille says although the diner won't be around as a business anymore, that's never how she's really thought about it. When she spoke with Nora Flaherty last year, she said her priority was creating a nice place for people in the community to come together.

"My children were grown and they actually said to me, ‘Mom, you have to get a life.’ And that became the diner. I wanted to recreate the atmosphere and the nostalgia, not just pictures of Elvis or Marilyn Monroe on the wall. What I wanted to do was think, what would it have been like if you’d walked into a diner or a place to eat at that time?"

In opening the diner, Bastille was also looking to bring her community together. "A lot of people were disconnected, and though they’ve been neighbors for years, hadn’t seen each each other for years and now they’ve reconnected here and I feel very blessed to be a part of that." When she started the business nine years ago, she says, she wanted to be known for three things: the best burgers, the best pies and the best frappes: "It didn’t make me money. We don’t really see a profit financially, but it does pay its bills."

Bastille lives with her husband in a camper that's parked right outside the diner. “When I came to the place, maybe...five to six years ago, realizing how far in debt I was, that I didn’t like going out in public because I didn’t want to run into someone I owed money to, I finally had to take a look at it", says Bastille. “One of the options, of course, was closing, selling it and selling everything I had and paying everybody off  and I wasn’t quite ready for that.”

Bastille says she's discovered two things from living in a camper: "You don’t need much to be content and happy in this world, and two: a relationship can make it in cramped quarters.”

Looking forward to the next few years, Bastille says she's facing the fact that she doesn’t recover from her 14 or 15 hour days like she used to. “So that’s when we decided that, you know, maybe it’s time to put the schoolhouse up for sale. Am I ready? No. Because I love what I do and I’m not ready to sell it. But it is on the market in case somebody else wants it. I’d love to, of course, see it continue as Mom’s Schoolhouse with the same goals, but someone else might not have those goals.”

If it doesn’t sell, Bastill says she'll make a decision about what to do later. Her children and 11 grandchildren live far away, and she would like to spend more time with them. “And so yes, we’ve put it on the market, but I’m not in a hurry to sell. I tell people, sometimes I forget that it’s for sale!"

This summary only contains a portion of what’s in the audio interview. Click here for the full interview.

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