‘A lifelong dream’: Iconic Pal’s Diner moves to Muskegon

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — After serving up meals and memories for about 25 years in Cascade Township, the former Pal’s Diner is now at its new home in Muskegon.

A crew spent several hours Monday moving the iconic 55-foot diner car from a lot on 28th Street SE in Cascade Township onto an extendable flatbed that’s one of only five in the country, according to project manager Dale Van Der Schaaf.

The transport team painstakingly lifted the 60,000-pound diner car using hydraulic bottle jacks and stacked timber beams, then slid the flatbed underneath the structure and secured the wide load. However, as the semi-truck backed up to leave the lot, a suspension airbag exploded, delaying the drive about 90 minutes as the driver swapped out semi-trucks and reconnected the flatbed.

New owners Dr. Mark Campbell and his son Scott Campbell looked on as the diner finally left the lot for I-96, on its way to their Hot Rod Harley-Davidson dealership in downtown Muskegon.

They plan to reattach the entrance and restore the 67-year-old landmark to its previous Pal’s Diner name and glory, fixing neon signs, lighting, décor and rotting wood and adding memorabilia from the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

On Tuesday morning, the transport team will shift the diner car onto its new foundation butted up against Hot Rod Harley-Davidson, where it will overlook Muskegon Lake. A new roof and patio are also in the plans.

Scott Campbell says the goal is to make Pal’s Diner a destination in downtown Muskegon.

“It means the world to us. It’s just one more reason to come to Muskegon, to come to West Michigan and to enjoy some of the past and the importance of it,” he said Monday.

The 51-mile move to Muskegon comes almost a year since the restaurant, most recently known as Dan’s Diner, shut down.

“2020 and the pandemic were just too much for us,” Dan’s Diner posted on its Facebook page at the time.

Months later, the Campbells struck a deal to buy the diner they grew up visiting, where classic cars would also stop for photos.

“This has kind of been a lifelong dream for my family and my dad. And we’re excited to just be able to keep the diner. And we’re hoping to do pictures in the future, too,” he said.

Scott Campbell also wants to eventually put the diner to work serving a single iconic food, similar to how Pronto Pups operates. Pal’s Diner will also serve alcoholic drinks.

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