For 32 years, Robert Silva, or “Mickey” as he was known, made much more than breakfast and lunch at his Hope Diner in Bristol. He made friends.
“He helped a lot of people,” said his son, also Robert.
After not missing a 4th of July parade since owning the popular diner, Mr. Silva had to miss last year’s festivities due to illness. This year, after stopping in to help his daughter, Lorene, who now runs the eatery, Mickey stepped outside to find a spot to watch the parade. Surrounded by his family, he began to feel ill and a nearby police officer called for an ambulance. While thousands of people lined the parade route, Mr. Silva suffered a heart attack and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
While the diner re-opens on Tuesday, July 15, Ms. Silva wants the business to go on in his memory.
“We knew he was a good man,” Ms. Silva said of her father. “This week we’re finding out that he did a lot more than what we knew.”
Since the 4th, friends and strangers alike have offered their condolences to Ms. Silva, some of whom she didn’t know.
But Mickey did.
He was the type of guy who, if a diner wanted something that the restaurant didn’t have, he’d run to the store and buy the ingredients to make it.
He’d make cupcakes and deliver them to Franklin Court.
If he had a doctor’s appointment he’d bring along a couple of ham and egg sandwiches for the doctor and his nurse.
If you didn’t have the money to pay for a meal, he’d serve you anyway.
Even the local butcher would get a coffee and muffin when Mickey went in to buy meat.
“That’s how my Dad was,” Ms. Silva said.
Barrington resident, Louis DiCarlo, would make the trip to Bristol frequently just to stop in at Hope Diner.
“It wasn’t about making the bacon and eggs,” he said of the interaction he had with Mickey. “He worked the grill, but he made friends. He knew people on a personal level.”
Even in his hobbies he thought of others. While he enjoyed fishing with friends, he would also stop at yard sales and flea markets.
“My father loved to buy things and give them away to children,” Ms. Silva said.
Inside the diner is a “treasure chest” filled with toys and other items for families with children.
“If they ate their breakfast and were good, he’d tell them to go to the treasure chest and pick something out,” she said.
“His whole life was here,” said Mickey’s son, Bruce, seated inside the diner. He didn’t use a menu or a slip, you just yelled for it. You couldn’t stop him from working.”
After working in diners since he was a teenager, Mickey decided to buy the Hope Diner 32 years ago.
“He never missed a day,” his son, Robert said. “You couldn’t stop him. He still had it.”
For Mickey, the 4th of July was his favorite business holiday — a time that was busy and in a location where friends passed by all day.
“Christmas was his favorite holiday,” Ms. Silva said. “When he spent time with his family.”
When the diner re-opens, gone will be Mickey’s gruff exterior, barking orders at Lorene and Bobby while wondering aloud why the toast isn’t ready yet.
“That was part of the show,” Lorene said of the atmosphere. “He’ll be at that grill with us. He’ll always be spoken of highly.”