Tierney Diners


Copy from Tierney Diner ad – 1926

No matter what your present occupation, or where you are located- if you have been seeking YOUR opportunity; if you have been anxious to get into business for yourself- to be your own Boss- or if you are in business and dissatisfied with its results; if you want to make more money than you ever made in your life- if you are willing to work and win success- then a Tierney diner is YOUR opportunity. It’s a clean, respectable PROFITABLE business for YOU- Every day in the year!
You would be one of the most independent men in your community. Your money would be turned over quickly. 30% – 40% of each days receipts would be your NET profit! You would have a strictly cash business. No bad accounts. No collections to make.
The Dining Car business is spreading fast. Men like yourself, and with no more experience at the start, are getting rich in it. You can do it, too!
* * *
A Total capital of $3000 ($36,000 in 2009 $) – will set you up in this business- provide the first payment on your car and leave enough to install it on location, open it up and start your daily receipts coming in- and many successful operators have done it on less.
* * *
The Dining Car Business in your own town.
The Tierney Real Estate Department checks up your location, or obtains one for you, thus assuring a proper business building location for your car.
We train you for success, just as we have trained hundreds of other operators of Tierney Diners.
You can take advantage of our Training School, if you desire.
Tierney service helps you in all details of operation, providing reliable and experienced chefs, and other employees, if desired, and supervises and guides your management, if needed, until you are sufficiently experienced to assure success by yourself.
No Tierney Dining Car located and operated in accordance with Tierney Service and Instruction need ever fail, for when you purchase a Tierney Diner you get back of you thirty years of successful experience in this business.
* * *
Tierney Service makes Monthly Payment Plan possible. The Lunch Car business is essentially a worker’s business. It has not been built up by capitalists, although it has created capital for its operators- but has won out through the energy and close attention to business of men who with a small amount of money to start with have followed up that moderate capital with an unlimited supply of conscientious, faithful work. That is what makes the Lunch Car business such a sound, dependable business to be engaged in; it is built on foundations of individual industry and common honesty.
“Fully ninety-five per cent of the hundreds who have won success and independence in this business have started with very little money, so the plan had to be devised to help these men get there cars as well as stand by them until they had made a success of the business. In other words, after you have made your first payment down, the car will pay the balance.”
* * *
Wherever you see a Tierney dining car you will find a man who is making money.
* * *
This portable restaurant is delivered on its own wheels to its permanent location, where connections are made for water, sewer, gas or electricity.
* * *
Just the Way they look inside: Tiled floors and walls, stool porcelain, oak tops with nickel rim, counters marble or black walnut. Back of counter complete kitchen, tiled ice box, equipped with most modern type of range, short order stove; steam table, nickeled coffee urns, hot water heater. The last word in brightness and cleanliness.
* * *
If YOU owned a Tierney Dining Car like this, $5000 to $10000 should be your YEARLY PROFITS



Lunch Wagon Takes Permanent Roots- Rises in Social Status – Feb 1, 1925

There are not many among us who remember the itenerant horse drawn lunch wagon of years ago, a sort of boxed-in push cart, from which customers were served while they stood in the street. But its successor, the “dining car” of today is known in every city in America and is, indeed, one of the most distinctive and original creations of this country.

Just as the lunch car has given up its vagrant ways and settled down to one location to become a stationary institution, so, also it has come to draw on a different class of clientele. The belated travelers, drunkards and occasional teamsters that were the sole customers a few decades ago have been replaced by a steady patronage that includes women as well as men. In addition to ordinary workingmen, many who could easily afford to eat in places of higher tone and higer price are glad to avail themselves of the good food, and unimpeachable cleanliness of the lunch wagon of today.

Everything in the modern restaurant car is gleaming white from the tiled floor to the marble counter top or else in shining nickel or well polished oak. The wheels that distinguish the old lunch wagons are usually boxed in today, while many cars now stand on a brick or concrete foundation. In fact, there are in New York City dining cars so well established that cellars have been dug beneath them. Others employ small shacks at one end to provide extra storeroom spaces.

The little villages and the smaller towns were in bygone days the habitat of the lunch wagon, and they hesitated to invade the big cities with their scores of established eating places. But the palatial lunch car of the present is not in the least backward about entering a metropolis. One man alone owns fourteen dining cars in New York City and offers the axiom that wherever you find the most eating places, there you will find the most people looking for something to eat. In just as impressive numbers cars are taking root in Chicago, Philadelphia and other great cities.

In the smaller towns as well the restaurant car has obtained a high class of patronage. A lunch car manufacturer, recently visiting the town of Huntington, West Virginia, with a population of 50,000, dropped in on one of those who was operating one of his cars. This car owner promptly introduced him to every one seated at the counter. The first was the president of the bank and of the Chamber of Commerce, the next a real estate operator, followed by a chauffeur, two or three lawyers and other men of prominence.

Just where the first lunch car originated and who first conceived the idea of serving food in a car is not known. Perhaps it started by the conversion of disused horse cars for the purpose, and as a matter of fact, many discarded trolley cars and possibly some horse cars still exist as eating places.

But the first individual to make a definite business of building and selling an especially designed car was a man by the name of Buckley in Providence, Rhode Island. Buckley is said to have started in the business by serving food from a push cart arrangement, and, as weather made shelter necessary, he built around his cart a body that served as the first model for later development. His innovation became so popular that a demand arose from others who desired to operate similar cars, and Buckley naturally drifted from an operator of lunch wagons to a builder of them for others.

In these early days of the history of what was to be the present day dining car, the “lunch wagon man” usually kept his vehicle parked in his back yard during the day and at night hitched up his horse to it and drove to the town center to do business much in the manner of any peddler. The customes who sought pie and coffee stood by the wagon wheels while they were served.
But in the 1890s, a New Rochelle operator decided to double his income by buying a second lunch wagon and also rented sites for his cars and gave them a permanent location for 24 hours of the day. So well did this pioneer, P.J. Tierney, succeed that he was able to open car after car in Westchester County and the vicinity until he owned a chain of no less than 38, the first lunch wagon syndicate, and then was able to become a manufacturer like Buckley.

With the coming of these makers of lunch cars into the field, ways and means were sought by which the vehicle might be improved. The interior of the combined kitchens and dining rooms was the main place where new features were needed. In the final compact arrangement, a battery of coffee urns, a short order stove, a steam table and gas ranges are all set above a series of bins which hold dishes and supplies. Exhaust fans and electrical ventilators sweep the smoke and odors of cooking out of the car.

The standard dining car, quoted at $6,700, is 30 feet long and 10-1/2 feet wide. Fifteen customers have stools provided for them. But there are larger cars, and each additional stool, representing an enlargement of about two feet to the car length, costs at least $200. More than one car is now in operation which costs $15,000, and one particularly large and elaborate car at Greenwich, Connecticut is said to have been built for no less than $50,000.

It has long been an established fact that the great fortunes in the restaurant business are not made by the owners of great “lobster palaces,” but by the operators of one-arm lunch rooms, cafeterias, automat lunch rooms, lunch cars, and similar places that cater to the greatest number. The sales on a lunch wagon, according to those with experience in the game, should come to $3,000 a month, $100 a day. Some cars total well over $5,000 in that time, of which the actual profit usually averages 35 per cent.

Whenever a lunch car settles down in our neighborhood, we generally notice that it is the last business enterprise to give up. A manufacturer who has been making dining cars in New Jersey for 12 years boasts that, although 90 per cent of his cars are sold on the deferred payment plan, he has never been forced to take one back for non-payment of these installments. One statistician has figured out that the average time a customer spends in a lunch car is eight minutes and that the average check is 28 cents. Therefore, by this quick service, the more customers can be served, and many lunch cars are seldom found with a vacant stool at the counter.

It is said that it was the charitable work of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union that first brought the lunch wagon into busy New York. Despairing at the sight of men going into saloons because free lunch was served with drinks, these practical reformers determined to provide such men with something to eat for less than the price of a drink. To lessen expenses, they adopted the wagon as the cheapest possible means of distributing food and as an eating place whose atmosphere would not discourage those they wished to reach.

Such has been the development of what was once the lowest point in the scale of eating places into a rendesvous for those who well could afford more expensive. In a recent inspection in a New Jersey town, the only lunch car there was awarded 98 points out of a possible 100, the highest mark of the 13 eating places of the community. They are licensed just the same as the best hotels and other expensive restaurants are, and with no discrimination made between them. The lunch car owners have now joined together in a National association for their mutual benefit, and in every respect the dining car is now an established industry that is with us to stay.


3 thoughts on “Tierney Diners

  1. Any idea where I can find stools like the ones in this diner? They have wood tops/seats? I’ve seen them for sale before. Would you happen to have a source for these? Thanks!

  2. Hello,

    I am in the process of purchasing and opening a 1927 Tierney diner and am hoping to locate original advertisements…. do you know what publications I can find advert in? I see you have several postings for Tierney adverts, and any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Best Regards,

  3. Pingback: WICKFORD, RI, The Wickford Diner, 64 Brown Street,

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