Archived Pages from 20th Century!!

Welcome to the Virtual Diner, an on-line resource devoted to the unique American cultural institution known as the Diner.

Your stool awaits!!

In much of the United States, the word "diner" is used rather generically to describe the local storefront luncheonette, or to a burger joint with retro-50's decor and Bobby Darin on the jukebox, or even to Yuppie watering-holes where the cost of an entree could feed a family of four in a "real" Diner. In the Northeast, particularly in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and southern New England, a Diner refers to one thing and one thing only: a stand-alone single-story structure with counter service and unpretentious food.

Agawam Diner, Rowley, MA. Built by Fodero Dining Car Co., c. 1954.

Ross Diner, Quechee, VT. Built by Worcester Lunch Car Co., 1946.

Since the beginning of the 20th Century, Diners have been prefabricated by a number of manufacturers, most in New Jersey, and are delivered fully assembled (or broken into smaller slices for ease of transport) and ready to go. You need to walk up a few steps to enter a Diner. Breakfast is the big meal here, usually served all day. At other mealtimes the menu is supplemented with simple, hearty fare: homemade meat loaf, real mashed potatoes, string beans straight from Le Can, homemade squash pie, and a bottomless mug of coffee; as opposed to grilled medallions of veal with capers and lemon butter sauce, served with mixed field greens (aka "weeds"), a side of boiled New Potatoes (as opposed to Old Potatoes), and a nice Cabernet Sauvignon, all artistically presented in an elegant setting for only $54.95. Diners are egalitarian by nature: where else but in a Diner will you find a construction worker, a tie-wearing businessman, a tye-dyed Deadhead, and a leather-clad biker, all sitting elbow-to-elbow at the counter, wolfing down American Chop Suey and trading insults with the waitress?

Need a menu, hon?


Order up!!

On-line Diner Delites. Coming soon!!

Check, please!!

Last updated February 5, 1996
Chris Noren <[email protected]>, New England Biolabs, Inc.


Computer space for this resource is generously provided by New England Biolabs, Inc.

Thanks to Randy Garbin, publisher of the diner quarterly The Roadside, and (especially) Richard Gutman, without whose invaluable reference book American Diner: Then and Now (Harper Perennial, New York, 1993) this page would not exist.

Dedicated to the memory of my grandfather, Jim Ammiano, who dragged me kicking and screaming to the Paramount Diner in Manasquan, NJ every week until I finally "got it."

Standard Disclaimer and miscellaneous hand-wringing

New England Biolabs, the above mentioned individuals, and the Diners listed in the Directory are in no way liable for the contents of this document. All opinions expressed herein are those of the author.