(for Antique Trader's purpose, some of the article was edited out- here is the whole one)
Shiny But Not New- Let’s Talk Diners
There it stands, a shiny bastion of a memorable time, calling, inviting all peoples to enter and partake of its simple fare. This can be only the all American diner and we are harking back to the nostalgic simple, happier times of the 40s and 50s.
Though their demand waned in the 60s and 70s, it has recently resurged due to people “hungering” for the atmosphere of welcoming smiles and gleaming décor. No matter whom you were, businessman dressed in a suit or dirty construction worker, you were welcome to come on in and relax and enjoy a simple repast.
Diners began as prefabricated units at the beginning of the 20th century. The enticement was the reasonable price and relative logistics. They were carted on flatbeds, put down on a lot and there you were. Since most of the manufacturers were in New Jersey the wealth of diners is located in the Northeast.
A place for all masses they were regaled with silver formica, big square tile floors and the unforgettable jukebox (mainly Wurlitzer). They had a counter with stools along with the inviting private- like vinyl covered booths. The bright colors were wonderful in the distinct reds and aquas. There was the recognizable, usually green, milkshake machine by Hamilton Beach, and the covered plastic pedestal display case under which were goodies like the 15 cents a slice pie.
Their main menu and big attraction was the breakfast, which was served all the time. All of the meals were reasonably priced and simple, but hearty. It demanded no extra knowledge of cuisine.
The waitresses were friendly, usually knowing the names of the regulars. It was service with a smile and maybe a joke too.
Diners were in full force around WWII and into the 50s, but eventually fast food chains squeezed most of them out of business.
However, it didn’t kill them in many hearts and minds.
There are about 2,500 diners in existence today with four manufacturers still producing them (at a very high cost, I might add). The demand for them has increased several percent in recent years. It is mainly Greek immigrant families that comprise ownership today.
A gentleman by the name of Roger Smith, admittedly a great aficionado of original diners, took it upon himself to travel the country photographing these gems for all time. The result is a terrific photo history of a part of Americana.
A long time ago Jim and I took an excursion through PA and NJ doing the same thing because of our affection and appreciation of the past, so, come with us down the highway of nostalgia and have a great time.