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July 05. 2013 8:46PM

Is a quiver of Red Arrows ahead?


Members of the family of Mabel Lamontagne, wife of the founder of the Red Arrow Diner, gather at the diner on Friday following a memorial service to 'celebrate her life'. In the photo above (from left) are Monty Bancroft, daughter Rita Lamontagne-Bowlby, granddaughter Karen Bancroft and great granddaughter Julie Bancroft. (Bruce Preston / Union Leader)


Ray Lamontagne, the son of Mabel Lamontagne, wife of the founder of the Red Arrow Diner, talks about his mother as he sits at the diner following a memorial service for her on Friday afternoon. (Bruce Preston / Union Leader)

MANCHESTER — Hollywood set designers may have recreated the Red Arrow Diner for fun last year, but owners of the famous Queen City eatery say they plan on doing the same — this time for real — in Londonderry next spring.

Red Arrow President Carol Sheehan said the popular downtown diner, featured in the Adam Sandler movie "Grown Ups 2" that opens Friday, July 12, plans to open its third location during the first half of 2014.

"We're very excited about it," said Sheehan. "I don't want to discuss too many details right now, but we are targeting an opening in the spring of 2014, right off Exit 5 on I-93 in Londonderry. If you head south from Manchester, you would take a left off the ramp, and it would be there. We think it's a great location, and we're looking forward to it."

Sheehan said the new Red Arrow would be located "close to" where Poor Boy's Diner now stands, at 138 Rockingham Road. She said that a Sunoco service station, located at 137 Rockingham Road at the RMZ Truck Stop, would be taken down as part of the plan. A call to the truck stop seeking details was not returned Friday.

Sheehan said the Red Arrow's third location (there are diners at 68 Union Square in Milford, along with the more famous one at 61 Lowell St. in Manchester) would feature a drive-thru window, and could open the door to further expansion.

"Right now we are focusing on the Londonderry site," said Sheehan. "We want to build that one up, try a few things, make it the best that it can be. Could there be more in the future? I think that's a definite possibility, and we want this one to serve as the model for any others moving forward."

The Red Arrow brand is well-known, winning many awards in recent years, including a ranking in the top 10 of diners in the country by USA Today. During a 2007 visit by Guy Fieri as part of the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" show, the host raved about the American Chop Suey menu item.

During every New Hampshire presidential primary campaign, candidates from both sides of the political aisle pull up a seat at the diner's counters to meet voters and grab a bite. Over the years Red Arrow visitors have included President Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Rudy Giuliani. Celebrity diners have included musicians and actors, such as Central High School graduate Adam Sandler.

Sandler's Happy Madison Productions recreated the Red Arrow, at least the exterior of the diner, last summer in Marblehead, Mass., which served as the location for "Grown Ups 2," a sequel to "Grown Ups," a popular 2010 comedy about a reunion of high school friends at a New England camp. Scheduled for release July 12, the film features many of the actors from the original film, including "Saturday Night Live" alumni Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade and Maya Rudolph.

The exterior sign was brought in from the Milford Red Arrow. The diner, which Sandler frequented during his days at Central, appeared briefly in one of his earlier films, "Eight Crazy Nights." The diner's menu features Adam Sandler's Favorite, a grilled steakburger with lettuce, tomato, raw onion and mayonnaise.

Sheehan said her 18-year-old son, Tyler Isabelle, landed a role as an extra in the film. They sat inside the restaurant as the main action took place outside on the street.

"They treated him as a 'special extra,' putting him where the camera could pick him up," said Sheehan. "I don't know if it will end up on the editing room floor, but he had a lot of fun. They took care of him."

Sheehan said customers who come into the Red Arrow diner with a ticket stub for "Grown Ups 2" will get 50 percent off their meal price.

There were once five Red Arrow locations around the city. David Lamontagne opened the original Red Arrow Diner in Manchester in 1922. Sheehan said opening The Red Arrow Diner in Milford in 2008 piqued her interest in franchising the diner's name.

pfeely@unionleader.com



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