Pat Archambault

Pat Archambault

SALISBURY — She may be gone but her memory will keep many a soul fed for years to come.

The town lost one of its biggest celebrities when the former owner of Pat’s Diner, Pat Archambault, died surrounded by her family at age 91 on Nov. 20.

“She got to say goodbye to everyone, right before she left,” said Archambault’s son, George Poulakos.

According to Poulakos, with his mother dying at the start of the holiday season, his family is planning a local celebration of her life sometime in early January.

“We’ve been hearing from people everyday since she passed away,” he said. “I really want to thank everyone for getting to know my mother and my family and coming to our diner. It was a great 21 years. This damn virus has really messed us up and put a hex on everything. My mother wanted to open the diner back up, but it was a good ride.”

Poulakos brought his mother into the deal to buy the 1950s-era Worcester Lunch Car diner in Salisbury Square in 1999. Pat’s Diner remained a special place in many people’s hearts until it closed during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns last year.

“My mother always taught me, when anyone comes to that door, they are doing you a favor,” Poulakos said. “She met and entertained so many different people. She went about three or four years without having a day off, seven days a week.”

Poulakos, 62, said his mother had a simple way of expressing her affection.

“If you told her ‘I love you,’ she would answer back ‘I love you more,’” he said. “My mother had seen a lot. She had a lot of problems with many different things but she always seemed to be happy. She always seemed to be optimistic and she was always there to help anyone out who needed help.”

Town Manager Neil Harrington — “Turkey club, no mayo,” Poulakos said — frequented Pat’s Diner and said Archambault “was an institution” in Salisbury.

“We will miss her smile, we will miss her hospitality and we will miss that warm gathering place where so many people in town were able to enjoy a good meal and good friendship,” Harrington said. “My sympathies go out to her family and I hope that she rests in peace.”

Pat’s Diner may have provided customers with a good meal but it also gave Poulakos and his mother many good stories.

“She used to feed a man who was homeless,” Poulakos said. “She would also take him to CVS. Now, she usually gets baby shampoo for herself. But, she was buying this guy Paul Sebastian shampoo. He would always give her a hard time but she would tell him that sometimes, people just need a helping hand.”

Although that man eventually moved on, he wrote a letter to Archambault about a year ago. According to Poulakos, the envelope contained a check for $5,000.

“I guess he came from quite a bit of money and was pretty messed up on drugs at the time,” Poulakos said. “If it wasn’t for my mother taking care of him for those last two or three years, he probably wouldn’t have made it. So he wanted to thank her.”

Taking Archambault out for a simple evening was like stepping out with a local celebrity, according to her son.

“It was like you were walking around with the mayor of Newburyport and Salisbury. That was my mother,” Poulakos said. “If one more person asked me if she was my wife, I was going to kill them. It wasn’t my fault that she always looked good.”

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at jsullivan@newburyportnews.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

Trending Video

Recommended for you