BECKY'S DINER: Serving great breakfast, lunch, and dinner to Portland' waterfront since 1991
Portland has been named one of the best food cities in the country a handful of times now. I don’t think anyone that lives in or frequents Portland is at all surprised. Once upon a time if you wanted to go to a “fancy” dinner in Portland you were probably going to DiMillo’s or Fore Street or one of the other handful of restaurants in Portland prior to 2010. The past ten-years-or-so have brought us Eventide and Piccolo and Central Provisions and Evo and Vinland and the Green Elephant and Miyake and LB Kitchen… you get the idea.
But there has been one establishment that has been going strong since the early 90s: Becky’s Diner. Sitting humbly on the west-side of Commercial Street, now adjacent to what will no-doubt be some hideous condos, is the finest dinah you’ll evah find-ah. (Sorry.)
Becky’s Diner was opened in 1991. Prior to that the building was boarded up and storing motors for Adams Marine, and owned by ten fishermen and a lawyer. Becky thought it would be perfect for a diner. After leasing it for a couple of years from the fishermen she was able to buy the building. She is thankful to the previous owners for giving her first refusal and says she doesn’t think she would be where she is today if it wasn’t for their help. Initially, the diner only did breakfast and lunch, and dinner came later. Becky worked at three restaurants trying to make ends meet with six kids before Becky’s Diner and she opened the diner because, as she says, “I figured if I was already working the hours it might as well be for myself.”
All of Becky’s kids have worked at the restaurant, and so have most of her nieces and nephews. Now Becky’s grandkids are also working at the restaurant, “It's an awesome first job if you want to teach kids the value of hard work and how great a paycheck makes you feel.”
“I tell my kids that I will never retire because I love seeing and chatting with all of the people. This is a dream job! I love coming to work. Although,” she adds, “some days can be hard when you have a few crises to handle. But that keeps me on my toes.
These days at the restaurant you’ll find her sons Zack and Mark managing the kitchen, and her sister Millie, a waterfront figure in her own right, works at the restaurant five days a week. Becky thinks her boys do an amazing job and she believes the food “has been taken up a notch” with all their hard work. If you’re lucky enough to know Becky you’ll understand this: without any prompting Becky adds, “I should not forget to mention my amazing crew who push out a ton of food every day, and I should also say how much I love and appreciate the Portland regulars who get us through the winter with their loyalty.” This article is supposed to be about Becky, but she can’t help but give credit to others, share kind thoughts, and be so obviously grateful for her family, restaurant, customers, and staff. Again, if you know Becky, you’ll get it; she has the biggest heart.
Speaking about how grateful she is: “Yup, I am the luckiest girl around, coming every day to a waterfront I love and feeding the fishermen that I also love. It's not about the money in this life, it's about the friends and family who surround us and make each day a gift.”
Becky’s is the first restaurant open on Commercial Street, opening the doors at 4 A.M. to make sure the fishermen get their coffee, and a chance to chat before they head out to sea. Perhaps people might not realize, but stability on the waterfront is essential not only to fishermen’s businesses but their safety and mental health, too. Places like Becky’s give them an opportunity to reflect and connect with others. (Fishermen don’t have water-cooler scenarios throughout their day on the boat like people who work in an office. It can be a rather isolating job at times.)
It’s much easier to count the number of wharfs and measure the economic impact of an establishment than it is to measure its cultural worth. Becky’s Diner, though, is a measurement of the Maine values that exist on Commercial Street. If Becky’s, heaven forbid, ever had to close its doors Portland will have truly become ersatz of what it once because it will have lost all its values and sense of community. Becky’s Diner is a beacon of light in a city that is quickly developing, and a pillar of the neighborhood because it was founded with family, friends, community, and connection in mind.
In case you were wondering, her favorite thing on the menu: “Probably fried haddock and the roast turkey. For breakfast our blueberry pancakes.”
Becky's Diner 390 Commercial St., Portland, ME 04101. Open 362 1/2 Days a Year • 4am — 9pm (Open until 12 noon on July 4th & Christmas Eve)