Gardiner Public Library - Gardiner, Maine

The book launch party was a wonderful community celebration. The launch was generously hosted by the Gardiner Public Library in conjunction with A1 Diner (the subject of Sarah’s book) and Tilbury House (the book’s publisher). Much of the town turned out for the event, which celebrated not only the book, A1 Diner, but also the 60th anniversary of this venerable community landmark.

A1 Diner co-owners Mike Giberson and Neil Andersen made short presentations, expressing their love for the community and their appreciation for years of support. Both Mike and Neil surprised themselves by choking up. It was that kind of event. Mike spotted longtime waitress Cindy DeLong in the audience and said, “Cindy, don’t cry,” losing his composure in the process. Neil thought he could stay cool, calm, and collected, as he usually does with his legendary grace and style, but even this seasoned performer (Neil sings choir and cabaret) succumbed to the emotion of the day. Day in and day out, the diner has served as the hub of the community. On August 15, the diner community took the time to celebrate the importance of this tradition and recognize those who have made it possible, past and future.

Neil Andersen and Holly Levine

A1 Diner co-owner Neil Andersen (at right) with Holly Devine, a member of the A1’s illustrious wait staff.

Former diner owner Albert Giberson, known as Gibey (and also Mike’s dad), stole the show with some impromptu remarks. He expressed his thanks to the community for their long-standing support, and he praised Mike and Neil for their contributions to the community with the A1 Diner and A1 To Go, expressing his pride in their accomplishments.

Bob and Cindy kept a relatively low profile, but everyone was glad they were there. These stalwart employees worked for decades at the diner—Cindy is recently retired, while Bob is still an important part of the kitchen team.

Mike and Neil catered the event themselves, creating a wonderful menu that impressed us all. Bob made special tiny biscuits (200 of them, he told us) and these were stuffed with curried chicken salad to create a lovely appetizer that mixes the best of the old with the best of the new. The menu also included cherry tomatoes stuffed with a bulgar salad, glazed nuts, parmesan cheese wafers (a stunningly delicious appetizer made almost entirely from Parmegiano Regianno), and many more delicacies.

Thanks to Anne Davis, the library director, to Julie Eubanks, marketing director at Tilbury House, Publishers, and to Mike and Neil, for a truly wonderful event.