It has been a staple in the Metro west area for nearly two decades, but when the J&M Diner burned down eight months ago, its future was uncertain. The diner’s new location opened Monday, bringing back a line of longtime customers.

Karen Fiore greeted customers surrounded by purple walls, 1950s music and family portraits at the diner’s new location on Route 9 in Framingham. “You’re a lifer, hopefully, when you come here,” Fiore said.

Dyane Sleeper could be considered one of those lifers. She's been dining here for years. 

“Mom-and-pop places are where it’s at," Sleeper said. "It’s still my preference, always. I like knowing how fresh the food is and what kind of care has gone into making it, and I know that that happens here every day.”

J&M is a true mom-and-pop operation. Karen Fiore and her husband Dave work with their daughters Juliana, who is the “J” in the diner's name, and Mihlan, who is the “M,” and another daughter who was born after the diner opened in 1998. Karen Fiore says the business is a passion.

“We love product and we have to continue our breakfast and serve it with a smile," she said.

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Fiore family photos hang inside J&M Diner.
Tina Martin WGBH News
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A welcoming sign hangs in the window of the new J&M Diner.
Tina Martin, WGBH News

That’s something Fiore wasn’t sure her family would be able to do after a fire destroyed their building in March. She remembers getting the early morning phone call.

“We heard about the fire, so my husband actually got his clothes on to go to work, thinking, ‘Oh, it’s just the other half of the mall, it’ll be fine,’" she said. "When we got there it was freezing cold, the wind was out of control. We were shocked. We came around on Route 30, we could see the flames behind our building and we thought, 'Wow this is not just a little fire — it’s a destruction fire.'”

Fire officials say the flames started in an attic and the wind whipped it through the Old Path Village Shopping Plaza. J&M Diner, along with 10 other businesses, were gone.  

But that was then, and this now. With insurance money and $23,000 in donations from a Go-Fund Me page set up by the community, the Fiore family is back in business, much to the delight of customer Dyane Sleeper.

“They are dedicated and it’s really a joy to see them turn this into something even better than it was before," she said.

The new diner has three times the space and employs about 20 people. Most are back on the job working 364 days a year, only closed for Christmas.  Karen Fiore says that will never change.

“At J&M Diner, you are family," she said.

The Fiores know most of their customers by name, and have watched many of their children grow up. That family atmosphere is apparent during times like Thanksgiving, when the diner is open.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the diner is open for dinner on Thanksgiving. The diner is open on Thanksgiving day but closes at 2 p.m.