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Henry's Hoopla

No more late nights at the downtown diner

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Exactly 365 days after it switched to 24-hour service on weekends, Henry's Diner on Burlington's Bank Street abruptly pulled the plug on all-night eating. "We made it for one year," reports Naomi Maglaris, who co-owns the diner with husband Bill. Wee-hour business was just starting to break even, according to Naomi, and probably would have improved with warmer weather.

Then came Saturday, April 14.

That evening, the dishwasher didn't show up and a customer came in looking for a brawl. The result: a massive food fight that involved milkshake missiles and squished packets of jelly. To make matters worse, the staff members decided to close up shop two hours early - without getting in touch with the owners or cleaning up the mess. "They never should have done that without calling us," Naomi gripes, noting she and Bill fired the entire nighttime crew. "We were pretty upset."

What caused the nighthawks to go on the offensive? Bill says the Burlington Police Department was in the habit of sending an officer down to keep the peace between midnight and 4 a.m. Not that night.

Even with police presence, the long arm of the law hadn't prevented people from stealing the diner's gumball machine - even the art off the walls. "It was such weird hours. It was very difficult to find a crew," Bill explains. "We went through a couple sets of employees hoping they'd be better."

Bill is optimistic the night-shift clientele will still come in for regular meals. And he hasn't totally given up on the concept. "If we could develop a good strong crew to handle those hours," he promises, "we'd try to do it again."

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