NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The owners of a historic Newport diner have been asked to either vacate the premises by the end of January or risk having their building demolished.
Steve and Vicki Bishop, owners of Bishop’s 4th Street Diner, said they received a notice from the property owner, Colbea Enterprises LLC, last week.
“[It said to] vacate the premises by Jan. 31 and if we don’t, they will seek a permit to demolish everything,” Vicki Bishop said.
Colbea is waiting on the green light from the city after submitting a special use permit to expand the gas station next store, add a Seasons Corner Market and a car wash. The plans require tearing down the diner and the vacant building behind it.
The Bishops learned of the plan back in October when they received a letter in the mail from the city.
“What went through my mind was our employees and all the people who come here all the time,” Vicki said. “We literally have people who come here every morning for breakfast. It just … makes me sad for them.”
“If love could save us, we’d have no problem at all,” she continued.
The couple said they tried bargaining with Colbea, but they refused to budge.
“[Is there] any chance, maybe, you could just keep us here? You’ve got all this land here,” Steve said he asked Colbea’s attorneys.
“What we’re hearing from the community is how sad it is that a big oil company wants to put in another convenience store, and interestingly enough, there’s a 7/11 right across the street from where they are,” Vicki added.
The Bishops are hoping they will be granted an extension to stay until at least March, adding that the Newport City Council told them they wouldn’t be considering Colbea’s proposal until the spring.
In the meantime, the Bishops are searching for a new location to hopefully move their diner to.
But it’ll be pricey, since the Bishops would have to move their appliances and build a new addition for the kitchen.
The couple created a GoFundMe page to help fund for their eventual move. So far, it’s raised more than $1,500.
“We’d rather do that than have this historic building demolished. There’s a lot of history here,” Vicki said. “Duke Ellington, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Peter, Paul and Mary, James Taylor and many other musicians used to come here for breakfast before they’d go play at the Newport Folk or Jazz festivals.”
The diner is also one of a few O’Mahony diners that are still operating, which is another reason the Bishops are hoping to preserve it by moving to a new home.
“We are way more used to giving than receiving,” Vicki said. “We have donated to countless local charities and we are just hoping that the community will rally and come support us.”
12 News reached out to the attorney representing Colbea Enterprises LLC but did not hear back.