Village Diner ribbon cutting

The Village Diner was packed with community members, restaurant regulars, and local town leaders on Thursday. Pictured from left to right: Hillsborough-Orange County Chamber Board of Directors Member Jim McNeely with ServPro of Durham and Orange Counties, Town Commissioners Matt Hughes and Kathleen Ferguson, Mayor Tom Stevens, Village Diner original owner Ethel Stansbury, owner of Village Diner Joel Bohlin, Chamber CEO Kim Tesoro, Chamber Ambassador Rachel Hawkins of Hoof Beat Farms, and Eric Olsen of Summit Design and Engineering. The Village Diner staff poses in the background.

Ethel Stanbury opened the Village Diner in the mid 1970s, serving up southern comfort food. This year, she has passed the diner onto Joel Bohlin, who she believes is the one who has the care to bring the magic back to a place steeped in history. 

“One thing that Hillsborough has in North Carolina is some longevity,” Mayor Tom Stevens began as he prepared to help cut the ceremonial ribbon on Thursday, May 10. “Some things do come and go pretty quickly, but the Village Diner has been here for a long, long time.

“Isn’t it great that we’re getting ready to celebrate a whole new chapter in the Village Diner?”

Stansbury made this diner at 600 W. King St. a home for Hillsboroughians, serving what Bohlin calls “the peoples’ food.”

“45 years of keeping people in line back here,” Bohlin teased Stansbury during the ribbon cutting. “We just happened to come together by chance, but she decided to let me take it on and see if we can’t help bring another 45 years here.”

Stansbury quickly responded.

“I couldn’t have got anybody better to take it than him,” she said. “If anybody can make it, he can. 

“I’m tickled to death to give him the keys.”

In a renovated and modernized Village Diner, old and new patrons packed the room. Some knew the Village Diner from coming there years ago to read the newspaper and catch up with the loyal employees of the diner. Others had heard about the diner and the community it fostered through stories told by their parents and grandparents. 

“This is very special,” Stevens said. “We thank you and honor so much of Hillsborough’s past [through you] and we look forward to a fabulous new time serving the community here in Hillsborough.”

Together, Bohlin and Stansbury cut the ceremonial ribbon.