Located on the Kennebec River, the town of Gardiner is one of Maine’s hidden gems. Originally a center of industry (and known worldwide for exporting ice in the 1800’s), Gardiner is now home to the iconic A1 Diner and the up-and-coming Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center. Today we speak with Michael Giberson and Neil Andersen, who have owned the A1 Diner for almost three decades, and with Michael Miclon, the executive and artistic director at Johnson Hall.
Michael Miclon, executive and artistic director at Johnson Hall Performing Arts Center in downtown Gardiner, has been a professional entertainer since 1982. He began his career as an apprentice of Benny and Denise Reehl of the New England New Vaudeville Revue and a student of Theater Master Tony Montanaro at the world-renowned Celebration Barn Theater. Michael has performed around the world from India to South Africa, Europe, and North America, with such highlights as the White House and Kennedy Center in Washington D.C to Victoria Jungfrau Hotel, Interlaken, Switzerland. In 2000 Michael became the executive director of Maine Arts Inc. in Portland Maine and produced the Maine Festival and New Year’s Portland. Michael then created his own theater in Buckfield called the Oddfellow Theater, which he ran for fourteen years before coming to Johnson Hall.
Michael Giberson and Neil Andersen own A 1 Diner in Gardiner. The diner was built by the Worcester Lunch Car Company in 1946 in Worcester, Massachusetts. It arrived by flatbed truck and was placed on 20-foot-tall stilts above the Cobbosseecontee Stream, where it still sits today. Eddie Heald, its original owner, ordered the diner, and Michael and Neil bought it in 1988 from Michael’s father, Albert. Michael and Neil will celebrate 29 years of ownership in April, making them the diner’s longest running owners.