Post House for sale after 54 years in business
Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 05:10
The Post House has been open for the past 54 years, but Main Street's last remaining diner will soon be changing hands.
Local resident Ellis Stehl, 61, has owned the restaurant, as well as two other franchises in Wilmington, for the past 30 years. He said the franchise had been on the market privately for a short time, but after The News Journal published an article about the sale, the listing became public and building tours given to interested buyers began.
Stehl said he has attempted to preserve the values and style of the diner the original owners, Frank McWhorter and Jack Brady, established when they opened their first Post House in 1948 in Oxford, Pa. While future ownership may be in question, Stehl said he hopes the name and atmosphere will remain the same.
"We don't mess with it because it's not actually our place," Stehl said. "It's the customers' place and they like it just the way it is."
Nestled between Iron Hill Brewery and Hollywood Tans, Post House's goals are concise and established, she said.
"The things we try to do are quite simple: good food, fair price and a clean establishment," Stehl said. "We're not fancy but we will treat you like gold."
Senior Julia Mahoney said she dines at Post House twice a month, and that what keeps her coming back is the feeling of a home cooked meal and warm atmosphere.
"I like that it's basically like going downstairs to your own kitchen and having your grandma cook you a meal," Mahoney said.
Stehl primarily cooks at the Market Street location in Wilmington, and said the Newark Post House will remain open.
"We're not closing, we are here until the place sells," Stehl said. "It's business as usual. Nothing has changed."
Selling Post House will be bittersweet for Stehl, because he has worked there for 42 years. He said he is looking forward to spending time with his wife, two sons and grandchildren after many years of 75-hour work weeks.
Jane Woolsey, 64, manager of the Main Street Post House, has been working at the restaurant since she was 19.
"Saturdays are my favorite day of the week," Woolsey said. "Retired people come in, and lots of students who eat big and tip big, they keep me busy."
She said her daughter and both her grandchildren work beside her. She also met her husband, Charles, at the restaurant when she was serving. He ordered eggs and home fries—they have been married for 26 years.
Freshman Brooke Sherif said she grew up coming to Post House, and often stops by in the summer to eat mac and cheese made by "Janie".
"It's one of the cheapest and best places to eat on Main Street," Sherif said.
Alex Odren, a social studies teacher at Newark High School, said he came to Post House as an undergraduate at the university in the 1980s.
"I come because it is an old-fashioned breakfast with that home cooked feeling, and it's nothing fancy," Odren said.
Woolsey said she prided herself on the ability to provide simply-cooked comfort meals as she fried scrapple, cracked an egg and flipped an omelet almost simultaneously behind the counter.
"What you see is what you get. You see your food being cooked, you know it's fresh, it's right in front of your face," Woolsey said.
Looking back, Stehl said he has no regrets, due to the success of his restaurants, the loyalty of his staff and the friendship of his customers.
"Someone once told me that we are ‘Cheers' without the beers," Stehl said, referring to the 1980s sitcom.