Bonnies-Diner

Gladys Booker, center, founder of Bonnie’s Diner in Winslow, is shown with Colby student fans in 1984.

Bonnie’s Diner, the cozy restaurant that filled generations of Colby students with pancakes, home fries, and conversation, closed its doors in January.

The roadside eatery on the outskirts of Winslow was a magnet for Colbians since the 1970s and a must for returning alumni and visiting Colby parents ever since. “They’d be here from Texas, from all over,” said Eva Turner, who ran the diner for five years, until last year. “They’d be out there with their cameras, texting pictures. ‘I’m at Bonnie’s. Here’s the dining room. These are the new curtains.’”

Bonnie’s had more than one owner. Most recently it was Bonnie Ryan, the restaurant’s namesake and daughter of founder Gladys Booker. Ryan—a high school student when Bonnie’s opened and now a retired school teacher—closed the diner after deciding to sell it with the adjoining property.

For more than 40 years, Bonnie’s offered home-cooked meals and a welcoming atmosphere for locals and Colby students alike. Said Becca Cunningham Weiss ’84 P’14 P’16, Bonnie’s proprietors “treated everyone like a friend, and that created this atmosphere of belonging for anyone who walked through the door.”

Said Daniel Totten ’14, “It was like walking into someone’s kitchen.”

Turner said Colby played a huge part in the life of the diner and would continue to do so in her memories of Bonnie’s.

She arrived every day by 4 a.m. to begin baking the breads and muffins that were a Bonnie’s staple. The diner would open soon after, though her Colby clientele (“they sleep late”) would come in later.

“We had the big table in the center we called the family table,” she said. “The Colby kids would fill that, their favorite being the blueberry pancakes. And the home fries. They would keep that grill loaded.

“God love ’em, they just ate it up.”