Archive for the ‘Diner’ Category

I just got a nice note from photographer John Woolf – his exhibit of 20 diner and roadside photos on display at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington MA (which I always mistakenly refer to as the Museum of Our National Heritage) – has been extended!

Now you have until November 2011 to check out these wonderfully detailed and saturated prints, a sample from  his “Night Road Series.”

Coney-Island-Hot-Dogs-Worcester-MA-John Woolf (Like this, George’s Coney Island Hot Dogs in Worcester, MA. Isn’t that neon just gorgeous?!)


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The Day and Night Diner on Route 20 in downtown Palmer MA is Worcester Lunch Car Diner #781. Built in 1944 it is currently open for breakfast and lunch.


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We were in Ardmore, PA the other night so RetroRoadhusband and I  decided to see what the Chung Sing restauarant AKA “diner that is actually a Chinese restaurant” was all about. Since we needed to grab a bite to eat it seemed like a perfect excuse for a little RetroRoadmap investigation. Let’s check it out shall we?

Exterior - Diner Chinese Restaurant Ardmore PAIt was raining so I just snapped this quick view before we headed into the vestibule. As you can see there’s no mistaking that this restaurant definitely a diner by design. It’s actually a vintage Fodero diner, once called Dean’s Diner and built in 1952 (thanks Larry at Diner Hotline for the info.)

And here’s what the inside looks like today.


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Recently a RetroRoadmap Flickr follower asked me for some road trip suggestions in my area, and I shared that Route 422 going west from Reading PA is fast becoming one of my favorite retro routes, in part because of places like Risser’s Restaurant / Diner in Womelsdorf PA. A classic diner on one side, homey dining room on the other, it’s two great Pennsylvania Dutch treats in one!Risser's Family Restaurant Welcomes You
While the dining room was darling with it’s vintage knotty pine paneling and painted mural depicting the plain people of the area, we opted to check out the restaurant  via the diner side on a chilly Saturday afternoon. The original diner  – called the Blue Star Diner when it opened in 1954 was partially bricked over (blurgh) but still retains it’s clean and classic roadside charm once you enter through the “diner car” entrance (Thanks to the Diners of Pennsylvania book for that info- and click this link to see the great sign it used to have!)

Risser's Diner Exterior Diner Car Entrance
If you weren’t completely convinced that you were in an actual vintage diner, this tag, indicating that the diner was manufactured by the Fodero Dining Car Co of Bloomfield NJ would set you straight. If you happened to be looking directly above the entrance that is!
Fodero Diner Tag

However, all you have to do is look around and see that, with the exception of some newer looking chairs, the diner is pretty much untouched, with it’s classic spinning counter stools, fluted steel backsplash, terrazzo floor and nice clean curved ceiling. We were handed menus from our waitress, but also needed a few minutes to absorb the posted specials. The one above the coffee urn caught my eye for sure!
Diner Counter

As you can see Risser’s serves traditional diner fare but also some more unusual items – Pig Stomach, Beef Heart, Oysters, veal, beltbusters – oh my! One of the tables near us ordered duck, and that isn’t something you usually see in a diner either, but it looked good.
Stuffed Pig Stomach & Beef Heart...Specials!

I had a good long look at the pie case before determining that I’d eat small and splurge on dessert. After consulting the extensive menu I fell back on the standard BLT for me and club sandwich for RetroRoadhusband. He decided to get the upcharge to visit the “salad” bar in the dining room for soup, “salad” and ice cream. I use the term salad in little quotey things because Pennsylvania Dutch definition of salad can include everything from greens to macaroni to cottage cheese, to mini marshmallows enrobed in hot pink fluff (ambrosia?).

Pie Case
My BLT was good and I was proud of myself for not eating more of RetroRoadhusband’s fries, because as soon as I saw the enormous cream puffs and eclairs (homemade) in the case, I knew exactly what I was going to order after my sandwich.

When I told the waitress that I’d probably take most of it home, she wisely suggested that she’d serve it in the to-go box. She was spot on, as this became a delicious gooey mess within moments of us diving into it. Diet be damned!

Save Room For An Eclair!I don’t think this photo truly shows the massive size of this pastry, as it was easily as big as a small sub or hoagie. I should’ve put a fork in there for scale. Guess I’ll have to order one again next time we go there to retake the photo :-)

So if you’re looking for standard – and unusual – diner fare while checking out scenic Route 422, check out Risser’s. We’ll be back for sure!

Ernie Risser’s Family Restaurant

4055 Conrad Weiser Parkway
Womelsdorf, PA 19567-1640
(610) 589-4570
Closed Mondays
I actually posted the “Satellite” view of this area so you could see the patterns and swirls made from the farming. Beautiful!

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We joke in my family that you could do anything with my dad, as long as it was something he wanted to do :-) So we girls went to many a field trial, old book store and decoy shop.

There were some times however where our interests intersected, and this picture of a diner is one of those examples:
Hayes Bickford's Diner Warren Spahn Boston BravesAnother thing my dad was known for was being very loyal and set in his ways. So when The Boston Braves left Boston in 1953, my dad remained a Braves fan for the rest of his life -even though the Red Sox were now the hometown team.

But what does that have to do with this photo of a Hayes Bickford’s Diner on Commonwealth Ave in Boston?

Knowing I was interested in diners, my dad got this photo ( a reprint from BU Photo Services) to share with me. I remember him telling me that at one point this diner was owned by Warren Spahn of The Boston Braves.

Diners and The Boston Braves – finally we had something we could talk about!

Hayes Bickford's Diner Warren Spahn Boston Braves Close up

My research at Boston-Braves.com confirms what dad said:

“With the slogan, “The Best In Baseball — The Best In Food,” the restaurantʼs debut was set for Opening Day 1953 to welcome hungry Braves Field patrons. Unfortunately, both
Spahn and potential pre- and post game hungry customers were in Milwaukee that April. The restaurant, on the opposite side of Commonwealth Avenue near Babcock Street, is long gone. It transitioned into a Hayes Bickford diner and, ultimately, to a muffler shop.”

Now I will leave it up to the diner folks (Larry, I’m looking your way ;-)) to fill in the blanks about this diner’s make and model and history. To me the history is with the photo, and the subject, and my dad.

This photo made it’s way from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania sandwiched between two of dad’s records – the Mills Brothers and The Ink Spots. Here’s to you, dad – and thanks for caring for us, all the time, even when we didn’t have a lot to talk about:

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Though the chain stores try to obscure this roadside gem from sight, Zip’s Diner raises their hand and flags down passersby with one simple request – EAT! And that’s exactly what you should do should you be in this corner of Connecticut -Eat At Zip’s Diner in Dayville, CT.

Eat At Zip's Diner

Even a gloomy grey day could not diminish the charm of this stainless steel diner, one of the most photogenic ones I’ve come across in my travels.

Both Sides Now at Zip's Diner

I entered the diner and was pleased to find a corner booth, my favorite location in a diner. Ordered a cup of tea and was delighted with the mini teapot that it was served in. While there were many booths and counter seats filled this mid-afternoon, you know how I wait for people to leave the scene so I can snap a photo, so here’s a shot of the formica table and rounded ceiling of this 1950’s era O’Mahony diner.

My Neigbors At Zip's Diner

Here are some more great photos of the interior of Zip’s Diner, courtesy of our pal Gunnar at Eccentric Roadside.

And here’s what I had for lunch!

Chicken Sandwich at Zip's Diner

A chicken cutlet sandwich was always my default dinner at the Bel Aire Diner in Peabody, and this one from Zip’s hit the spot just right. I also had the luxury of viewing this lovely vintage mural while I was dining:

Lake Alexander, Dayville CT Mural at Zip's Diner

While the weather was cold and gloomy, I left Zip’s diner mosty toasty. A swell lunch at a vintage diner like Zip’s will do the trick!

Open 6am-9pm every day. Don’t zip by, pull off the exit and check out the neon when its all lit up, or sunny out!

eat eat

Zip’s Diner / Dining Car
Connecticut 101
Killingly, CT 06241
(860) 774-6335

6:00 am – 9:00 pm

Zip's Dining Car on Urbanspoon

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The bright neon glow of the fabulous Olympia diner sign  in Newington Connecticut was a welcomed sight as we made our way towards Mass via the Berlin Turnpike on our last trek home. We were totally pulled into the tractorbeam of this bright oasis and I’m superpsyched to add this roadside delight to the RetroRoadmap of CT!
Neon Sign - Olympia Diner Newington, CT

As we entered this 1950’s era O’Mahoney diner we were pleased to see that the interior did not disappoint, and we were told to sit anywhere we’d like. We opted for a booth near the entrance but they also have an extended dining room for larger parties.

Olympia Diner Interior
Usually the tabletop juke boxes don’t work, which makes me sad, but in this case they were operational. Much to our dismay however, the folks behind us were pumping in quarters during our entire stay and had less than great musical taste. Luckily the food we ordered (cheeseburger / BLT) tasted better!

Tableside Juke Box - Olympia Diner, Newington CT

As I was looking over RetroRoadhusband’s shoulder I realized why the Olympia Diner looked so familiar to me – and realized it was featured on the original cover of American Diner by Richard J. S. Gutman himself! That’s a copy of the cover behind the cash stand.

American Diner - Olympia Diner Newington, CT

Food was good, the folks working there nice, and glad to know  they’re open every day ’til Midnight. I recommend going at night so you can see that stellar neon sign all lit up! The Berlin Turnpike was lined with old motels and hotels as well, they were fun to look at too.

Olympia Diner
3413 Berlin Turnpike
Newington, CT 06111-5106
(860) 666-9948

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Mod Betty will be busy being the Hostess with The Mostess this weekend, but here’s something for the diner sleuths in the audience to chew on while I am unable to post.

Is this diner real, or just a figment of the artist’s imagination?


All I can tell you is that this was painted in the 1930’s – 1940’s and the artist was from the Boston area. What details can you folks fill in? Put on your Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew/Sherlock Holmes hats, it sure would be cool to know if this was a real diner!

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Hey everyone, don’t forget about the slide presentation and talk that Larry Cultrera’s giving at the Thomas Crane Public Library, in Quincy, MA this  Monday December 6 at 7pm!

“The Evolution of Diners – From Lunch Carts to Mega Restaurants”

diner hotline slideshow quincy ma december 6 retroroadmap.com

Larry Cultrera of DinerHotline.com will be giving a slide show and talk about the ever changing appearance of the American Diner.

Larry has been conducting a personal research project on documenting the American Diner for the past 30 years. Since November of 1980 he has photographed 800+ diners throughout the northeast including all the New England states, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland & Ohio, as well as parts of Florida, Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia. He has also photographed other selected businesses/buildings along the roadside and has a fairly large collection of dinerpostcards and diner memorabilia.

The Thomas Crane Public Library
40 Washington St
Quincy, Massachusetts 02169
(617) 376-1301

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When I was told that the RetroRoadmap / Roadside fans meetup was going to be at the Glider Diner in Scranton,PA I knew I had to drive up and check it out before the big day. Being the hostess with the mostess means making sure there’s enough room for everyone, and this was one of the few times in my life where I was happy to see a bright sunny dining room added on to a vintage stainless steel diner. (According to the history of the Glider Diner the addition was actually made back in 1964 and called the Fireside Lounge, though it has been redecorated since then!)

Glider Diner ExteriorThe Glider diner is a 1950 Mountain View diner, and had we been able to finagle fitting all 17 of us into the vintage interior of the diner, I know the RoadsideFans / RetroRoadmap Readers would have preferred that. 3 folks who heard about the meet-up on RetroRoadmap came in to the back dining room to say hi to all of us, but said they wanted to eat in the diner part, and I can totally understand wanting to sit in that sun-filled pink diner interior.

Glider Diner InteriorThe photo above was taken after the diner had closed, that’s the only reason I got it looking so empty. The swell folks working at the Glider diner were kind enough to let us sit and chat at our table past their 2pm Sunday closing time, so we were able to snap a few photos of the interior without disrupting the customers.

To see this counter crowded with our gang, head over to Roadsidefans.com where Glenn Wells has posted some group photos he took that day. You may need to log in, but if you’re a RetroRoadmap reader you’re probably interested in RoadsideFans too, so it’s a win-win!

I was a bit overwhelmed with all that was going on so I ordered my standard 2 eggs over easy with bacon, and let me tell you, that was some of the better bacon I’ve had in a long time! Kate tried a hot porketta sandwich which is a spicy boneless pork sandwich with their famous gravy. Mike had frequented the diner before and dared order off menu for a chicken Caesar, and they were nice enough to accommodate. We all enjoyed our food, and our waitress did a wonderful job keeping track of everyone with good humor.

It was fun to match up faces to names, and soon enough postcards and photos were being passed around, stories being told and so many interesting conversations that I wanted to be a part of every single one of them. Such a good time was had that rumor has it that there will be another meet-up in May of 2011, so mark your calendar and join us, won’t you?

And if you’re ever in the Scranton area, don’t glide on by the Glider Diner, stop for a bite to eat!

Glider Diner
890 Providence Road
Scranton, PA 18508-2546
(570) 343-8036

Glider Diner on Urbanspoon

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