We've Got Answers - Skee's
Saving a Torrington diner
Yes, Skee’s Diner is being saved. Shuttered for several decades, the diner has been a fixture in Torrington’s North End where its meat-and-potato menu was once as predictable as the blast of the neighboring factory whistles.
The Torrington Historical Society plans to restore, relocate, and eventually reopen it. The 17-stool diner is a barrel-roof diner manufactured in 1920 by Jerry O’Mahony, Inc., of Elizabeth, New Jersey, which produced about two thousand diners from 1913 to 1955. Fewer than 20 remain. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Skee’s is the earliest known surviving O’Mahony diner in the state.
Designed to be portable and shipped by rail, it first moved to Old Saybrook, then to Torrington in 1944. Many original features remain in the unit today, including the marble counters, a wooden icebox, and frosted, etched-windows.
Barrel-roof diners are often considered the first true diners, arising from early horse-drawn lunch wagons. Measuring only 11 feet wide by 30 feet long, Skee’s is remarkable tiny. Customers ate elbow-to-elbow, and the red, swivel stools never got cold, especially during the diner’s heyday following World War II.
In Torrington’s North End, it was the Cisowski brothers, Tony and Edmund, who turned it into a dining hub in 1945. Seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. they served up homemade goulash, pot roast, sauerkraut, and sausage. And, they gave the diner it’s quirky name: Skee’s, after Tony’s Navy nickname.