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Joanne Passing on Ownership of Elm Street Luncheonette
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
05:18AM / Monday, January 30, 2023
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Joanne Longton, right, and "best employee ever" Evelyn Szelest. Both are retiring after Monday.

Evelyn Szelest and Joanne Longton on their last day at the Elm Street Luncheon. Longton joked that Szelest 'came with the place.'

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Joanne Longton's been behind the counter at her Elm Street diner for nearly a half century. But not after Monday. 

She's handing over her spatula and heading to retirement after 48 years. 

Joanne's Elm Street Luncheonette will be under new ownership but she expects it will stay much the same as the hometown eatery that has fed many Pittsfield residents from childhood to adulthood. 

Longton announced the news of her retirement over Facebook on Friday. 

"After 48 years in business, it's time for me to lay down my spatulas and enjoy life. It's been an amazing journey, I've made great friends during my time here and will never forget you all," the post read. 

"So many amazing memories. Please stop in to say hi and share a story." 

And apparently, a lot of people have been in to say goodbye to Longton and waitress Evelyn, her longtime "best employee ever," who's also retiring. 

Their last day of work will be on Monday before an employee, whom she declined to identify, takes over the operation. She said the only change is that diner will now be open on Sundays. 

Longton said she wasn't open on Sundays because it is traditionally a day of rest and family. 

She bought the Elm Street Luncheonette in 1974, adding her name later, and filling it with hundreds of photos of her customers over the decades. 

When asked what she will miss the most, she pointed to the nearly 50 years of returning and new customers. 

"It's very hard. It's not easy for me to do it but I need to do it.  It's time," Longton said. "It's been an amazing experience." 

Joanne's Elm Street Luncheonette, located at 123 Elm St., is currently open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. 


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