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Shawsheen Luncheonette reopens with new owner

It’s been introduction after introduction this week for Peter Ahn, the new owner of the Shawsheen Luncheonette.

“Family of four? Sit wherever you feel comfortable,” he said Tuesday gesturing to the few empty tables left.

After being closed since August, the popular Lowell Street diner was once again alive with hashbrowns sizzling on the stovetop and people catching up with friends and family. After seeing a Facebook post from his brother-in-law about the Luncheonette closing because the former owners Amy and Brian Guay were retiring, Ahn was on the phone trying to see if he could buy the diner.

It worked.

“I’ve always told my wife and friends and family that I’ve wanted to do breakfast, especially being able to do a place where I live makes it that much more special,” the 25-year Andover resident said. “And a place that’s been here for 70-plus years, it’s a true institution through the Andover town and surrounding communities for people who have been coming here for years. Being in this position to continue this tradition is a big honor for me.”

Ahn already owns two restaurants — Bonchon franchises in Harvard Square and Salem, Massachusetts. Now, he’s learning the ropes of owning a diner.

Now Ahn has rehired all of the staff who were working at the Luncheonette when it closed. The Guays have also stayed close by to help with the transition.

“They are not obligated to help me through this transition, but them coming forward and actually wanting to help me through this whole transition has been awesome. I’m so, so thankful,” he said.

“Brian (Guay) knew I was having trouble finding good help back there and he stepped up to the plate,” or the stove rather, and is filling in as a cook until Ahn can hire someone else.

The staffing shortage that is currently plaguing the business community — and hitting restaurants especially hard — has been one of the obstacles to reopening, Ahn said. One of the waitresses got another job at a local business after the Luncheonette closed in August, and when it was time to reopen she wanted to stay on at both.

Ahn agreed, recalling, “If we can work it out, that would be great. I wouldn’t want anyone to be short-staffed.”

Guay began working at the Luncheonette when he was 17 and bought it from Roland Boisvert in 1988. Guay and his wife Amy ran the restaurant for more than 30 years attempting to retire in 2019. However, the sale fell through because of the cost of repairs needed to bring the restaurant up to code.

Ahn was able to update parts of the kitchen and work with the town to ensure he could reopen the business.

“The town has been more than supportive for keeping this place open,” Ahn said.

And all of the customers coming in have also been amazing, he said. He’s excited to continue meeting regulars coming back and welcome newcomers as well who can get in on the tradition.

“I kept the menu the same, using the same ingredients, the same process, the same everything because when people come back I want them to say ‘hey, this tastes the same as before,’ and it’s important to keep the atmosphere, the food, the service the same,” Ahn said. “And by having the help stay the same makes it easy for me to put out the same service and food to the community.”

“I hope the community will embrace me like they did the past owners, my job is to continue that,” Ahn said.

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