Mike on America

Moondance Diner: Talk About A Re-Location?!!

The Moondance Diner

So how far are you willing to go to make your spouse happy? Would you drive for 7 days over 2,400 miles toting a 75 year old New York City diner?

Vince Pierce did, along with his father-in-law. Vince is a long haul trucker and his wife is a human dynamo named Cheryl. They live in La Barge,Wyoming, population between 4 and 500, which is 3 hours and change north of Salt Lake City. It sits at the crossroads of Wyoming highways 189 and 235. And in a few months the Moondance Diner will sit at that intersection too.

If you're from New York City, then it should be 'THE' Moondance Diner. For three quarters of a century it sat downtown near Houston street on 6th Avenue. The oldest diner in the five boroughs. It appeared in movies, "Spiderman", the first one that comes to mind. It was in TV's "Sex and the City" and "Friends". And it was about to be demolished to make way for condos when Cheryl Pierce came along.

Cheryl and Vince had decided that what La Barge needed was a restaurant. It had a library, a post office, a gas station, three bars, but no grocery store or restaurant. Cheryl had worked plenty in the kitchen of her family's outfitting business. She was a 'stay at home mom' who had decided it was time 'to do something'. She has a God given talent for getting things done and not being willing to take no for an answer. She's business savvy without really knowing she is.

She decided she wanted a diner.

So she and Vince started looking on the internet and low and behold they found out about the Moondance. It was on the market for $7,500. Not $75,000 but $7,500. They could do that. And since Vince and Cheryl's Dad can both drive a big rig, they could get it to Wyoming. They made their first trip to NYC, bought the diner, loaded it up, and after a series of detours through Pennsylvania, a tornado in Brooklyn, a water main explosion, they arrived back in La Barge.

They bought a lot right on the highway, and now all they need to make this thing happen: $300,000. According to Vince, that'll be the easy part. They've researched the history, they've found old pictures, they've drawn up new plans, and come December or January the Moondance will shine again, all spiffed up, and neon bright in Wyoming.

Crazy? Maybe, but consider this. Since word first got out traffic has been streaming into La Barge like they haven't seen before. People traveling cross country going out of their way to see the diner. Three lots next to where the diner will go were sold--in a week. Another restaurant has opened up and Cheryl has been contacted by the Wyoming Department of Tourism. They want to put the diner in a brochure. All of this and it's not even open yet!

This area of Wyoming, in fact his area of the west, is booming thanks to increased oil and natural gas production. There are more wells than trees on the town's outskirts. All these new workers have to eat. All the people who drive in to service the companies that hire the workers have to eat. And occasionally when it snows so much no one can drive the 20 miles to a supermarket, the people who live here will have to eat too.

Once renovated, the Moondance will be a full service tourist attraction and a testament to the energy of one woman and the love of the people around her. "Why did you do this?" I asked Vince as he stood next to his rig near the Green River outside of town. "I did it for Cheryl," he said pointing in her direction. She smiled and laughed a little. Welcome to La Barge, Wyoming. Welcome to America.

MOA will be in Las Vegas next week. What goes on there will stay there, but I'll think of something to tell you about. The first slice of meatloaf in the Moondance is on me

Questions?  Comments?  mikeonamerica@nbcuni.com