GARDINER — In one of the booths at Gardiner’s A1 Diner, Maryellen Dube could be overheard talking about how every special on the menu for the Christmas Eve brunch looked worthy of ordering.

Maryellen and her husband, Marc Dube, decided to stop by the historic diner on their way to finish some last-minute Christmas shopping.

They were one of the pairs of people that decided to stop in and show local businesses support after this week’s historic storm that left most of the businesses in Gardiner without power until Friday.

“We wanted to go to Panera, but we didn’t want to go to a (restaurant) chain, so Marc suggested this and here we are,” Maryellen Dube said.

The diner did not sustain physical damage from flooding besides losing four propane tanks, but because of the power outage they lost all of their prep food and produce for the week. They had to close Saturday to prepare for Sunday’s brunch, and encouraged people to stop in Saturday to purchase gift cards. Former owner and present baker, Michael Giberson, said the diner sold a couple hundred dollars worth of cards.

“Several people came in and bought some to support us,” Giberson said. “People helped with anything they could to bring us together and help neighbors. We ended up donating a lot of food to the Gardiner food bank, too.”


The diner does not always open for Christmas Eve, but has, depending on the day the holiday falls on. However, this year felt different, after the storm, and by 11 a.m. on Saturday they had a steady group of customers.

The flood water on Gardiner’s Main Street reached levels residents had not seen since the Kennebec River flooded in 1987. Giberson recalled that flood and said he lived in an apartment under the A1 Diner at the time — he had to be evacuated from the apartment and the water eventually reached the ceiling.

Shelly Weston has worked at the diner for 20 years and said they have “really felt supported by the community and others in the area.”

“I had concern for the other small businesses and given the time of year, it seemed a little more unnerving a week before Christmas to lose the revenue.”

For the Christmas Eve brunch, the diner had curated a holiday menu.

The Dube’s ordered the “Holiday Spice French Toast” and a breakfast burrito with all the fixings. Other items on the special menu were a “Maine Crab Benedict,” “Kimchi Hash,” “Gingerbread Griddle Cakes” and a “Brie & Sausage Bake.”

“I texted my daughter a picture of the menu — All of the Christmas specials looked so good. You know it’s good when you want to order everything,” said Maryellen Dube.

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