Endangered New Jersey Diners

          The stereotypical Jersey diner is big and busy, driven by a massive menu, and reflects the most stylish of contemporary decor with a cavernous vestibule that can handle the crowds waiting for Sunday brunch. But there is another side to the state’s diner landscape that includes older, and much smaller factory-made diners, many flanked in stainless steel panels, that stand forlorn and nearly forgotten in weedy lots along the roadside, victims of changing traffic patterns, management cycles, or neighborhood economics. Similar diners thrive elsewhere, and these can too. For the moment, however, these gems of Jersey roadside heritage sit on the eve of destruction awaiting another chance to serve the community.

          Preservation New Jersey, a Trenton-based, non-profit organization promoting historic preservation in the Garden State, recently released their Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites list that included a general statewide item entitled “Historic Diners of New Jersey.” Preservation New Jersey understands the value of the diner to Jersey culture, lifestyle and history, and also recognizes the need to promote diner awareness to encourage continued support for existing diners, and the preservation and reuse of idle ones. Adding to their value is the fact that most of the nearly 400 diners in the state were manufactured here. With companies like O’Mahony, Paramount, Kullman, Fodero, the Paterson Vehicle Company, Mountain View, Manno, Musi, and Swingle, North Jersey had the greatest concentration of diner manufacturers in the world. All but Paramount – now known as PMC- and Kullman have closed, and Kullman no longer manufactures diners. The finely crafted masterpieces of these Jersey diner makers, however, still exist in the museum of the open road.        

          Preservation New Jersey gave a general shout out to save the “Historic Diners of New Jersey” without listing any specific diner. In my Garden State diner wanderings for the upcoming book, Diners of New Jersey, I have discovered endangered diners in almost every county, and have assembled here a list of the most threatened diners in the state. These are classic diners that have been closed for an extended period of time, or have been threatened with demolition, removal, or property redevelopment. The list is tentative in that I do not know their current state. Has a deal already been made to purchase, rehab, or remove these diners? Have some already been lost? This is where you come in. If you have any past, present, or proposed future information on these diners, and their current conditions please share what you know through your comments. Or contact me directly at kpatrick@iup.edu.        

            Developing a list of endangered commercial properties is a tricky thing because both the business and the building are implicated, and they are not the same. The unpredictability of a “for sale” sign on East Orange’s iconic Harris Diner is understandably a little unsettling to diner fans and local patrons, but that doesn’t necessarily make it endangered. Buildings are bought and sold all the time. After all, Charles Harris, the original owner and diner namesake sold the place in 1958. At the same time, the business is integrally linked to the building. The building that houses Olga’s Diner on the Marlton Circle in South Jersey was manufactured by Fodero in 1959, although its pristine condition causes many to assume it dates to the late-1960s or even 1970s. Yet, an aging diner dynasty, unpaid back taxes, and the potential resale of a multi-million dollar lot has closed the business and put the building at risk of demolition to redevelop the land.        

            This list of ten endangered Jersey diners reflects more the building than the business. It highlights some of the oldest and most historic diners at risk because of long-term closure and possible destruction due to building neglect or property redevelopment. The average person cannot save these buildings by their patronage. It’s too late for that. Salvation has to come through community involvement and active participation with local elected officials and planning authorities. No matter how seemingly abandoned these diners are, however, they are still private property and there is only so much that can be done. Preservation initiatives should nonetheless be explored and supported, at the very least by voicing concern that these places mater.        

            In addition to the Ten Most Endangered, I also came up with a second tier of threatened Jersey diners for those of a more recent vintage, yet still important to their community’s quality of life, in addition to diners whose fate may have already been sealed. Business is the best tonic for any open diner. While supporting your local diner, however, recognize that the state’s most historic diners are likely to be located in older neighborhoods that were growing 50 to 60 years ago when these buildings were set on their foundations. So support them by making the occasional trip back to the old neighborhood to get a slice of history.        

            Ten Most Endangered New Jersey Diners        

1. Max’s Grill, 735-737 Harrison Avenue, Harrison; 1927 O’Mahony. Max’s Grill is not only the oldest diner in the state, it is in near museum-quality condition. The 1927 O’Mahony is in Harrison, an old factory town reincarnated as an affordable, condo bedroom community a couple of train stops from Manhattan. This is the perfect walkable neighborhood for a small diner like Max’s. Unfortunately, it and the bar it is attached to has been closed since 2007. New condos mean new customers, unless of course those townhouses land on the site of Max’s. Every resident in Harrison should be ready to protest any proposal that doesn’t lead to the reopening of this very historic, one-of-a-kind diner gem.        

Max's Grill, Harrison, NJ, 2006.

2. Tom’s Diner, US 46, Ledgewood (Roxbury Twp.); 1937c Silk City. The last time Tom’s saw action was when Cyndi Lauper filmed her music video, Time After Time, there in 1984. Well, maybe it hasn’t been closed as long as that, but it seems that way. Tom’s is one of the stock model Silk City diners that came out of the Paterson Vehicle Company plant in Paterson, and were scattered all up and down the roadside. At this time, the monitor roof, window transoms, and front porcelain panel for the diner’s name were standard Silk City features. As common as these were in the 1930s, that was some seven decades ago, and unaltered Silk City’s of this vintage are becoming increasingly scarce. Everyone –residents, local officials, travelers, diner fans, and not least of which, the owner- would love to see this Depression Era Silk City back in action.        

Tom's Diner, Ledgewood, NJ, 2007.

3. White House Diner, US 22 Readington; 1955c Mountain View. This mid-century Mountain View has been closed so long it may soon disappear beneath the overgrown jungle of its own shrubbery. US Route 22 between Clifton and Somerville presents a challenging set of circumstances for the diner preserver that is written right into the diner geography of the road. Back in the mid-1950s, two modern, stainless steel diners were placed on this stretch of highway when it was the main road west from New York City funneling traffic that supported dozens of diners. This transient traffic was lost when Interstate 78 opened in the 1970s, eventually facilitating the closing of both diners. After a brief hiatus, however, the nearby countryside started filling up with suburban housing developments providing a customer base for two new, postmodern diners that opened in the 1990s: the Spinning Wheel, and Louka’s Last American Diner. These new diners literally flank the older and long-idle White House and Branchburg diners. Could this few-mile stretch of road actually support four diners; two brand new, and two old classics? The diner contrasts along this stretch of US 22 is a great one for leisure roadside rangers and photographers –while it lasts- but a clever business model will have to be devised to save this chunk of Jerseyana.        

White House Diner, Readington, NJ, 2007.

4. Branchburg Diner, US 22 Branchburg; 1954 O’Mahony. The Branchburg Diner is the abandoned brother to the White House Diner located a few miles west. It is an excellent example of a last-days O’Mahony constructed a few years before this venerable Jersey diner manufacturer closed. Its fluted, vertical stainless steel panels are separated by green flexglass, presenting a unique diner façade that is further enhanced by the exterior clock above the vestibule. The Branchburg was part of a larger roadside one-stop that included a bar and cabins. The owner has expressed an interest in building a strip mall on the property. The diner needs to be saved, even if it means relocating to another site.        

Branchburg Diner, Branchburg, NJ, 2007.

5. Little Falls Diner, 9 Paterson Ave. Little Falls, 1946c Kullman. The Little Falls Diner is a picture postcard perfect example of a postwar in-town diner set up against the sidewalk within walking distance of all the businesses in the little downtown of Little Falls. The vertically arranged, cream-colored porcelain panels, and streamline-ended windows are original to this late-1940s Kullman, and the interior is surprisingly in tack for a diner that has been closed since 1990. The owner would love to sell it, and the property could not be put to a better use.     

Little Falls Diner, Little Falls, NJ, 2007.

  

Little Falls Diner interior, Little Falls, NJ, 2007.

6. Mack Diner, 150 French St. New Brunswick, 1941 Fodero. Although made by different companies, the porcelain flanked Mack Diner is a stylistic cousin to the famed Summit Diner in Summit. Its life as the All-Ears Records store from 1976 to 2005 was nearly as long as its run as a diner, ending ignominiously when its owner was sent to prison on drug charges. The diner has been empty ever since. In 2008, it was bought by Tareq Algharaybeh, who has the intent of relocating his nearby Sam’s Pizza and Chicken restaurant onto the Mack site. He has the diner up for sale hoping someone will move it away.   

Mack Diner, New Brunswick, NJ. (Kyle Weaver)

7. Pickering Diner, 18th St. & 10th Ave., Paterson, 1940 Paramount. When Paterson was still a manufacturing powerhouse, Paramount built the Pickering Diner for the corner lot at 10th Avenue and 18th Street. It was advertised to be the largest diner in New Jersey at the time, a superlative diner manufacturers never tired of trying to top. Amazingly, this pre-war Paramount still stands, yet as empty as the once-humming mills that still surround it. The diner last saw life as a pancake place, but has been closed and up for sale for years. It is time to bring this forgotten treasure back to life.       

Pickering Diner, Paterson, NJ, 2007.

8. Mom’s Diner, US 1 Avenel (Woodbridge), early-1950s Fodero. There are few early-1950s Fodero’s left that are in as good a shape as Mom’s. Hungry motorists turning into the lot from US 1 can easily be confused as to whether the place is closed because they arrived in the off-hours, or because it is closed closed. It’s closed closed. And its pristine status won’t last forever. Cannot busy Route 1 support a genuine classic diner of this size even as a breakfast-lunch place, or is this a case of the land being worth more than the business? Like the family farm in a suburbanizing countryside, this is a common condition for putting diners on the endangered list. As a community, we usually lose more than we gain.        

Mom's Diner, Woodbridge, NJ, 2007.

9. Calhoun Diner, US 1 Lawrence Twp., 1955c Mountain View. A mid-1950s Mountain View has been sitting idle along US Route 1 in Trenton’s suburban Lawrence Township for far too long. Stainless steel and striped in green with hallmark corner scrolls, this Mountain View started life as the Calhoun Diner on nearby Calhoun Street, and still stands as a classic piece of postwar Jersey roadside. Turning its key back on as is would be best, but it is also designed to move.        

Calhoun Diner, Lawrence Twp., NJ, 2009.

10. Cookstown Diner, 10 New Egypt-Cookstown Road, Cookstown (North Hanover Twp.), early-1950s Mountain View. The little Cookstown Diner is tucked away in rural South Jersey on a county road between McGuire Air Force Base and New Egypt. It sits at the edge of the unincorporated hamlet of Cookstown. It sits on a bend in the road next to a gas station, a static tableau from another time. It would be a challenge to find for all but locals, and therefore a great place to discover. Unfortunately it hasn’t been open for years, but appears as if it could be with an interior that is in good shape. Although I know little of this out of the way diner’s story, I do know that it is an early-1950s Mountain View. Mountain View made hundreds of its famous scroll corner diners before closing in 1957. The Cookstown, however, is from a more rare preceding generation of Mountain Views, making it all the more important to save.        

Cookstown Diner, Cookstown, NJ, 2006.

Second Tier Seven Endangered New Jersey Diners        

11. USA Country Diner, US 130 Windsor (Washington Twp.), 1964 Kullman. The Country Diner on US 130 south of Hightstown was erected by Kullman at a time when diner manufacturers were still enamored with the look of modernity, but were experimenting with new ways of presenting it. Stainless steel flanks receded for plate glass so expansive windows functioned more like walls. The USA Country Diner is a wonderful expression of this, stunningly framed in light blue and set on a foundation of horizontal stone reminiscent of a California coffee shop of the same time period. Last time I visited, a sign on a door said they were closed for renovation. That scared me almost as much as if the sign said they were closed for demolition. This building is a perfect rendition of early-1960s optimism with no equivalent anywhere in the state. Renovation for preservation is exactly what is needed, but a radical insensitive rebuild would take the diner off the endangered list, and put it squarely on the who-cares list. Worse yet, that was in 2006. Can benign neglect save this building, or will it disappear one day without warning?        

USA Country Diner, Windsor, NJ, 2006.

12. Olga’s Diner, NJ 70 & NJ 73 Marlton, 1959 Fodero. Olga’s is another early environmental transition diner in excellent condition. Although it predates the Country Diner, it looks much newer, completed in Fodero’s coffee shop style with large windows and white formstone trimmed in stainless steel along the casements and extended eve. Olga’s might be the most well known diner in all of South Jersey. The business’s first diner arrived on Federal Street in Camden in 1949. Ten years later, Olga’s leaped well ahead of the suburban fringe to the lonely Marlton Circle at the junction of NJ routes 70 and 73. The suburbs followed over the next five decades, and the diner was cemented into the consciousness of the region. The diner is now in limbo, having been seized by the state for unpaid back taxes, and the Marlton Circle will soon be effaced by an overpass and interchange. The property however, will be untouched by the road construction, providing the diner an opportunity for a new life if it can survive its greatest threat; a real estate price tag $5.8 million.        

Olga's Diner, Marlton, NJ, 2006.

13. Forum Diner, 211 Route 4, Paramus, NJ; 1967 Fodero. The fabulous Forum Diner was a spare-no-expense, groundbreaking diner design when it was constructed by Fodero in 1967. Situated on busy Route 4 between the Garden State Parkway and Paramus Road in the rapidly growing North Jersey suburb of Paramus, this was one of the original, big, Jersey diners. Encased in stone, but with large plate glass windows, and a vestibule capped with a bright yellow, cupola-topped mansard, the Forum mixed colonial and Mediterranean details while retaining lingering hints of modernism at a time when the environmental style diner had come to dominate the roadside. The sprawling three-section restaurant has a massive dining room, and the large, circular booths that came to be a hallmark of the big Jersey diner, were pioneered first by Fodero for the Forum. Bound for retirement, the owner sold the Forum to a Jeep dealership in 2007, but a downturn in the auto market killed the plan for the dealership and gave the diner a temporary reprieve. Preservationist Michael Pearlman has initiated a Save the Forum campaign, and as of the end of the 2009, the property was up for lease at $55,000 per month. The property is valued at $3.9 million, once again begging the question; can these big, suburban diners weather ownership changes with such big, suburban property values?      

14. China 46, US 46 Ridgefield, 1965c Kullman. Set on US 46, the old commercial arterial striking west across the Bergen-Passaic suburbs from the George Washington Bridge, China 46 was a well known Chinese restaurant housed in another Kullman classic. This is a mid-1960s colonial transition diner expressing both where diner styles had been, and where they were heading. The diner is part brick, and part visual front; part Space Age canted eve, and part Early American picket fence balustrade. It contains the waning elements of modernity, and the rising influences of environmentalism. And it has been closed since the lease ran out in 2007. As cool as US 46’s retro roadside landscape is, it’s no place to be abandoned. Things can get real seedy real fast.        

China 46, Ridgefield, NJ, 2008.

15. VIP Diner, 175 Sips Ave. Jersey City, 1974. The VIP Diner is the social nexus of Sip Avenue in the downtown Journal Square section of Jersey City. This white rock diner with red pantile mansard roof was the pinnacle of diner design in the 1970s. Although without the stainless steel typical of older diners, it is an excellent example of its type, and a valuable part to the neighborhood. The diner’s corner lot is being hunted by one of the most viral predators of downtown streetscapes: a chain drug store. Chain drug stores frequently target corner lots, invariably destroying the socially valuable, and/or historically significant structure that previously occupied the site for the banality of a high-walled, little windowed, suburban standard model mini-fortress. They rarely fill a need for drug stores, but merely compete with pre-existing ones -as will be the case on Sip Avenue. What they provide is always less than what they destroy. If his price is met, the VIP owner is willing to sell if it happens, but also will continue to operate if it doesn’t. The drug store, however, does not fit into the zoning regulations outlined by the Jersey City Division of Planning, which calls for a higher building to retain the urban character of this downtown neighborhood. Public input and diner patronage can sway events on Sip Avenue.        

VIP Diner, Jersey City, NJ, 2008.

16. Lamp Post Diner, 6 Weeks Ave. North Wildwood, 1948 Paramount. The Lamp Post is a local landmark known to generations of visitors to the South Jersey shore resort of Wildwood. Although well away from the hustle and bustle of the Boardwalk, the diner commanded a very visible spot on the road connecting North Wildwood to the causeway leading to the mainland. This is however, the backdoor to Wildwood, with most of the traffic entering via Rio Grande Avenue. Closed for years, the Lamp Post reached its peak in the 1970s, which is why it still projects the mansard-capped, pseudo-colonial look. But deep inside is a genuine 1948 Paramount. Is what’s left worth saving? Regardless, restoring the Lamp Post to its former glory would benefit Wildwood and the shore bound who vacation there.    

Lamp Post Diner, North Wildwood, NJ, 2008.

 17. Tunnel Diner, 184 14th St. Jersey City, 1942 Paramount and 1950s Kullman remodel. Famous for its commanding location at the Jersey City entrance to the Holland Tunnel, the Tunnel Diner is a fascinating illustration of mid-century diner reconditioning. In addition to building new restaurants, diner manufacturers also reconditioned old diners that were traded in, and even renovated other diners on-site. Although the details of the Tunnel Diner’s building history are not well known, its current condition reflects a 1942 Paramount, most visible on the inside, and a late-1950s Kullman remodel most apparent on the outside. The diner, which played a role in the 1996 Al Pacino movie, City Hall, also comes with a towering, vintage vertically arranged diner sign. Unfortunately, it may be too late for the Tunnel Diner. Despite being set on a river of nonstop, outbound tunnel traffic, the diner closed in 2007, and was soon after slated for demolition. It nonetheless still stands –maybe- albeit surrounded by chain link fence, and that’s never good.    

Tunnel Diner, Jersey City, NJ, 2007.

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71 Responses to Endangered New Jersey Diners

  1. mike e says:

    awesome post! Lets hope this brings some recognition to these diners!

  2. Kevin, both the Whitehouse Diner and the Cookstown Diner look like Mountain Views but are much older. The Whitehouse has a barrel roof under all that (I was inside it once) and as can be seen on your photo of the Cookstown, there is a monitor roof on that one. These are reconditioned diners whether by Mountain View or Erfed, someone modernized these diners way back when.

    • I see. I knew they were Mountain Views, and that Cookstown was an older version, but did not know their was a barrel roof hiding in the White House. I saw a reference to the White House being called the VC Diner. Did you ever hear that? Do you know if that is the Cookstown’s original location?

      • neil perone says:

        the vc diner is a seperate diner. it is on the west bound side of rt.22 very close to the old white house diner. it is not a real diner. it is a brick building that is a restaurant trying to be a diner.

    • I saw the American Diner Museum ‘Diners For Sale’ link that defines the Cookstown as a Kullman remodeled by Mountain View.

  3. Great piece, totally showing what happens if we don’t take care of these great treasures. My photo exhibit based on the same Preservation New Jersey list documents some of the diners that still exist and are open, I’d love to link to your article to show the “other” side of what there is to save.

    http://retroroadmap.com/2010/07/06/vintage-diners-of-southern-new-jersey-check-em-out/

    Keep up the good work!

    • Please do. I’m anxious to see your photo exhibit, and as fortune would have it I’ll be in Wildwood this weekend -Saturday to Monday- so I’ll be in to check it out.

  4. Very cool! I’ll get that post up today. Thanks!!

  5. Pingback: Abandoned Vintage New Jersey Diners – A Cautionary Tale « Retro Roadmap

  6. Tom Seretis says:

    Kevin- Love the work you’re doing. If it’s any consolation, you don’t have to worry about #2 on the list for much longer- Tom’s Diner in Roxbury. I am the 3rd generation owner and am currently working with town officials on plans to reopen, hopefully by the end of the year. The diner was purchased by my grandfather Tom in 1958 (who I was named after- if you saw the film ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ you know what I’m talking about). My father, Frank, along with my mother Pauline operated it until 2004 (almost 50yrs!) until his passing that year. It’s been closed ever since and I haven’t had the time necessary to reopen it until now. Most people around me joke that we are only reopening so people will stop asking us to buy it (I get about 5 to 10 buyer calls a month for the last 6 years!) I tell the prospective buyers that my son, Frank (yes-named after my father), is the one who has the authority to sell the diner and you’re going to have to wait awhile since he just turned 1yr old. Anyway, it’s getting late. I have to go. I will keep track of your articles. In the meantime, send me a private message on my e-mail as I’d like to talk to you further. Have a good one.

    • This is great news! Diner fans and passing motorists will be thrilled to have this great Silk City operational again. I’d love to hear more of your family’s story to include it in the Diners of New Jersey book. I’ll drop you an email.

    • ellie s says:

      Dear Tom,
      I have lived in Hopatcong over 20 years and have passed Tom’s so many times on my way to somewhere or other. I always meant to stop and come in, but either I was in a rush or the diner wasn’t open at the time, and as we too often do I put it off until “tomorrow”. Tomorrow never came and the diner closed after your father’s death. I probably am not alone in giving it a wink as I’ve driven past all these years, imagining “Fonzie and the gang” perhaps just beyond my view.
      The other day I needed to go to Harrison and was shocked to find that on the corner where Max’s Diner had comfortingly stood for generations was a depressing cinderblock building under construction. No sign of the treasure that had once stood there.
      It’s good to hear that you are working on opening again. So many gems of Americana are giving way to what is labeled as progress, but is really a terrible loss of pieces from a special time in our history.
      What a wonderful legacy to give to little Frank. Good Luck with your project!
      Looking forward to finally coming for a visit.
      Ellie

    • Amanda B says:

      Tom,
      I live in Landing and have been watching Tom’s Diner crumble more and more with each passing year. I’m only 35 but it is very disheartening to see this icon dying before my eyes. The sign on the roof is nearly gone. Just this past weekend (Jan 13 2013) I decided to stop and take some photos before it’s completely gone.
      I have read in several sources that there were problems with the town.
      Maybe the historical society can take it over like they did the homesteads near the old “circle” and have it open just on weekends or something.
      It’s horrible to think that Tom’s Diner might be approaching the point of no return – in that it seems to be nearing the point where it can’t be restored.

  7. Has anyone heard of an impending demolition of Max’s Grill in Harrison, New Jersey? Demolition?! This place should be nominated for the National Register of Historic Places, especially considering the kind of post-industrial renaissance Harrison is experiencing.

    • ellie s says:

      Max’s is no longer standing at the corner of Harrison and Manor. I made a long neglected excursion to the Pechter’s bread outlet from my home in Sussex county and was appalled to see a gray cinderblock horror standing on the site where that beautiful little red and cream gem was nestled for generations. I found your site because I am on a quest to find out if it was torn down by some idiots with no soul and sense of history, or if it was as least given a new life and moved to another location. If I find out anything I’ll write you. If you find out first, PLEASE post the news.
      Thanks,

      • Kevin Patrick says:

        I was shocked to hear Max’s was gone, although it has been rumoured it was going for some time. I hope it was saved. I’ll look into it.

  8. Bella says:

    For more information please see Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares!!! Tssss…

  9. Monika says:

    Kevin, Max’s is gone. I live in Harrison and it happened this week. I took a photo today and when I went back a few hours later there was a huge fence around the empty and debris filled lot no longer allowing any view of the rubble. :( I stumbled on your post here because I’m googling to see if it was relocated or just plain demolished. Unfortunately, from the looks of it, it’s probably the latter. Here’s a link to my post on yelp about max’s with my photo from today:

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/maxs-grill-harrison#hrid:oWzHOQvSfOJBm1KZT1_ZvQ/src:self

  10. Maureen Francis says:

    Rumor has it that the Cookstown diner is being reopened but no new when or by whom. by who?

  11. neil perone says:

    kevin, the white house diner is not the vc the vc is across the road on the west bound side. the royal diner now called the branchburg diner is susposed to be sold to theowner of the chimney rock inn in bridgewater, nj will tell you more when i learn more.

    • Kevin Patrick says:

      I see. And I can understand the confusion due to their proximity. I hope the new owners bring some life back to the Branchburg.

  12. neil perone says:

    kevin, i am from middlesex, nj one block from swingle diner use to be. i am living in sc now great writing on these awesome diners in central nj. i just received your book today as a gift . diners of pa just started reading it it is really great thank you to brian butko and yourself. keep the diner history going. will be hitting some diners in pa in afew weeks. will let you know when done with book which diners i went to probably in harrisburg take care neil perone

    • Kevin Patrick says:

      Thanks Neil. The new edition of Diners of Pennsylvania comes out in May. We have a FB page where people drop random diner news and post pictures.

  13. Michael Cote says:

    Just letting you all know that the Mack Diner (aka All Ears Records Store) on French Street, New Brunswick, NJ was torn down and destroyed—December 7, 2010.

  14. Pingback: I don’t miss New Jersey, but I wish I did « The Blue Plate Special

  15. Loretta Wolf says:

    Re: Mack Diner

    All may not be lost. The developer claims the diner was hauled to Pennsylvania for restoration on 12/6/10. Here’s a news article from the Daily Journal: http://bit.ly/gKzD7Z

  16. Kevin,
    The is fantastic work. Preservation New Jersey is honored by these shouts outs, although depressed by these specific examples and your readers’ attests to the assertion that our diners, even the remarkably unique ones, are indeed very endangered. We look forward to meeting you in September, and working together with you and SCA to help save these gems!

    I think you also will immensely enjoy this PNJ blog post from last year that mentions the Calhoun Diner: http://preservationnj.wordpress.com/2010/07/08/historic-resources-tell-your-story/- after reading it, you’ll understand why I am eager to learn how you verified the ID!

  17. Nelson says:

    Hi, Kevin, I.m a Cuban guy become american and I love love love Diners, Now I’m trying to buy a Diner because I have a good idea to save them, but every Diner I saw up to now, the owners are hiding money for the IRS, and Banks don’t want to borrow money for then. And brokers are really unhelpful. It’s hard really hard.

    For example now I’m trying to buy one in my town the owner is greedy or the broker is greedy, hi want, 1MM with down payment $500 000 and I have around $100 000 and good credit with all conditions that banks like, but I’m struggle for nothing and after 4 diners trying to buy I quit my dream and starting looking others kind of business.

    Its a shame because as you I want Diners back not only in NJ, I want them in all USA with the same tradition but with a new concept for new generations.

    If you know persons that want to help me with my dream I’m pretty sure that we save Diners and one of our traditions.

    Greetings

    Nelson

    • Nelson, I see you have found that the actual business of buying and starting up a diner business can be pretty daunting. If you are familiar with Radny Garbin of Roadside Magazine Online, he might be able to help. Or Steve Harwin of Diversified Diners in Cleveland, OH, who restores and brokers diners. It’s people like you who are on the front line of preserving diners as viable businesses, Good luck.

    • Nelson says:

      Hi Kevin this comment was some time ago, Now I’m opening a “Different” diner I promise to post the address and everyone here are invited to Gran Opening.

      I’ll keep you update.

      Nelson

  18. cathy p says:

    so sad , just read that Mom’s diner will be torn down to make room for a …**(cringe)** Wawa’s!!!!!! I feel like crying, waaaaaaaaa :(:(

  19. Just stumbled upon your blog. Had to say that you have captured some wonderful architectural and cultural history. Really enjoyed.

  20. jaymie says:

    Kevin is there anyway I can get the contact info for the people who own the little falls diner? I would love to purchase it from then and bring it back to life

    • Sorry Jaymie, I don’t know who the owners are, but the people at the Little Falls Boro Hall would. I last time I saw the diner it was closed but there was no realtor information posted.

  21. Barbara says:

    I use to work at Toms Diner in Ledgewood New Jersey and I have know the family since I was a kid.. I miss that place so much and I miss Frank! If I lived in New Jersey still I would love to fix it up and open it up again!

  22. Many of the original Ranch (Rambler) houses are ripe for renovation. When remodeling you can add flare to its simple style by varying the materials, or emphasizing the entryway…Steve

  23. john W says:

    I grew up in little falls and used to eat lunch at this diner , sorry to see it go

  24. Art Voorhees says:

    Kevin, I grew up in Whitehouse and in the early 60′s I spent a summer washing dishes (and other scut jobs) at the Whitehouse Diner. Owned and operated by Val and Herb, the food was mediocre. Val’s rice pudding however was top-shelf. FYI, the Branchburg Diner was, in those days, called the Royal Diner and was one of the first to have a liquor license. Open all night, it was a good refuge when the bars closed. Their food and coffee was pretty terrible. It was rumored that the cabins in back could be occupied (accompanied by a waitress) if the price was right and they weren’t too busy. That might have explained all the trucker business. They sure didn’t come for the food. Also, in regards to the VC diner. It was built in the late 50′s or early 60′s and began life as the northernmost store in the Stuckey’s chain. I lived just up the dirt road between it and the Wonder Bar.

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  26. Pingback: Endangered NJ Diner from the Car Window « Ruth E Hendricks Photography

  27. rutheh says:

    Found your post as I was trying to find out the name of the diner I had photographed. You do good work. I am glad I found your blog and added a link to your post. All the best to you.
    Ruth in Pittsburgh
    http://rutheh.com/2012/08/27/endangered-nj-diner-from-the-car-window/

  28. Anita Bell says:

    I just finished a delightful mystery called Murder at the Falls by Stefanie Matteson which is all about diners and centered on a fictional diner in Patterson, New Jersey the ” Falls View”–maybe Tom’s??? Check it out…

  29. Nice. I’ll be waiting to hear from you.

  30. carmendesousa says:

    Hi, Kevin. Great post. I am interested in one of your photos (#6 Mack Diner). Would you please email me at your earliest convenience.

  31. Liz says:

    Unfortunately, (12) Olga’s Diner in Marlton, NJ is now closed. Not only was the food excellent diner fair, it was bright, clean and the staff were great. My daughter and I would often stop there on one of our PA to NJ trips. Miss the place.

  32. I’m sure you all get Randy Garbin’s e-blasts, but a very sad notice today about a Pennsylvania Diner becoming a Wawa, which also led me to this HORRIBLE article about Mom’s Diner. From your list Kevin, I visited many of these abandoned diners and was amazed when I visited Mom’s a few years back. So depressing. http://woodbridge.patch.com/articles/looks-like-it-s-curtains-for-mom-s-diner

  33. Tristan says:

    Hey! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the superb work!

  34. Rob says:

    China 46 Diner has been taken down not too long ago. Olga’s is still there as I visited it on 2-2-13 Tom’s diner sign is a bit tattered but the diner is still there. If you look through the windows you can still see the menu and things look like you could open it tomorrow. Was there 3 or 4 months ago. Gonna look to see if some of these are still around.

  35. Pingback: Abandoned Vintage New Jersey Diners – A Cautionary Tale | Retro Roadmap - Cool Vintage Places & Retro Fun

  36. It is with great sadness that I report that demolition of Mom’s Diner in Avenel began 3/21/13. Here is the article: http://special.app.com/article/CN/20130321/NJNEWS/303210043/Demolition-begins-on-ugliest-stretch-of-Route-1

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  39. Lenise Bowe says:

    Hello,
    Great Posts. Just an update.. the old Pickering Diner is now Mr. G’s Diner. It’s one of the hottest diners in Paterson ! Check it out !

  40. Nelson says:

    Hello Kevin finally here is our diner.
    http://www.cruisindiner.net

    Thanks for your support and I hope meet you soon.

    Nelson

  41. Beth says:

    Hey Kevin, I stumbled on your site to gather more information on the Whitehouse diner. For the last two years I have been obsessed with the rusty old teal sign. I wish I could say that the diner is being restored, but any hopes of that are long gone. However, I have rescued the sign and have given it a new home in my house on the wall of my kitchen. I will have to admit even though I absolutely love having it in my house, I really miss driving by it on 22. Beth

  42. RICHARD HIGGINS says:

    sad to see them go .part of the problem would be the lack of parking. they needed to be relocated to malls. i lived a block away from max’s in harrison 1930s and 2 blocks in 1940s. my cousin worked there in the 40s. last time I was there 05 and 06 while on vacation from florida. food was still good.

  43. Jeannette says:

    So sad to hear that some of the diners will be no longer, I grew up going to the diners for lunch and or diner…

  44. jim tharp says:

    I guess all the diners in SOUTH JERSEY dont count, I worked at the tuckahoe diner for many years,just in cape may county there are six diners i know for sure are closed, i dont live there any more and havent been back for while could be more

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