Postwar O’Mahony “Arrow” Diners

This model, introduced in 1946 was O’Mahony’s big postwar re-entry into the diner world.
Due to materials shortages, it was not clad in stainless steel, as later O’Mahonys would be, but in porcelain enamel, like pre-war models. All the examples I have been able to find have been creme and red, although according to “American Diner Then and Now” by Richard Gutman, they were also available in creme and turquoise.

O’Mahonys were custom built diners, and looking at the images, you can see a lot of variation between the diners. In dimensions, Zip’s and the Owl diner (1948) are both look nearly identical. Zip’s, however, has a narrower overhang over the door. I think the rooftop neon on the Owl Diner may have been done by O’Mahony.
The Fernwood Diner is a full window wider on each side of the clock topped vestibule. The diner with the neon reading “Seafood, Steaks, Chops” is an absolute monster. The diner was known as the Deluxe Diner, and was located in Union, NJ. As of November of 1946, it was being advertised by O’Mahony as the world’s largest diner, measuring in at 80′ by 53.5′, with seating for 153. Of all of the diners, this one has my favorite vestibule, which picks up the arrow motif.

All of the diners pictured in the postcard images have factory kitchens, which continue the red double stripe. With at least two of the surviving models of this diner, the Tastee Diner (1946) of Silver Spring, MD, and the Gatto Cycle Diner (1949) of Tarrentum, PA, the original kitchens did not survive the process of moving and renovating the diners.

Larry Cultrera has pointed out that the Golden Arrow Diner was built by Comac, not by O’Mahony and sure enough the back of the postcard confirms it. The diner is a pretty close copy of the 1946 O’Mahony “arrow” model, which makes sense, as Comac was founded in 1947 by the former general manager and the steel foreman of O’Mahony. I wonder, then, if the Trent Diner may have also been an early Comac offering.

Not pictured is Smitty’s Diner of Massillon, Ohio. Photos of it can be found here and http://www.flickr.com/photos/35784295@N06/6235607526/.

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There are still a few of these diners with us that I know of, and I’m sure I’ve missed some, so if you know of any more, please let me know.

The Tastee Diner– 8601 Cameron Street, Silver Spring, MD 20910
Lost its kitchen when it was moved in 2000. Now used mainly as a waiting room for the large dining room additions.

The Gatto Cycle Diner – Wood Street & Seventh Ave., Tarentum, PA 15084. Formerly of Butler, PA. Lost its kitchen addition. Originally the same creme and red color scheme as other O’Mahony’s of this era. Repainted green, and the points of the arrows on the front of the diner were removed.

The former Uncle Bob’s Diner (1947) – 4500 14 Mile Rd, Rockford, MI (Photo by Mike Engle)

Grazin’ Diner -(1946) 717 Warren St., Hudson, NY 12534- Covered over at a later point in stainless steel. Compare the sign to the one found on the Owl Diner, particularly how it follows the contours of the corner curve.

Emerald Isle – 49 Millbury St, Worcester, MA 01608 – Remodeled, but looks to still have its factory kitchen

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7 thoughts on “Postwar O’Mahony “Arrow” Diners

  1. you need to check out Bearden’s in Rocky River, Ohio (Home of Beardens Burgers Fries Shakes Hot Dogs
    beardens-cleveland.com/) not an actual diner car, but a very long colorful history since it began as Jackson’s in 1934 and then became Bearden’s in 1948…check out the website…same original building….lots of renos , lots of pictures, just reopened – back to its roots….sort of….your site was inspiring all thru the reno.

  2. Spencer, Although similar, theGolden Arrow Diner was a 1949 Comac diner according to Diners of Pennsylvania. I believe the postcard actually states this on ther back. I thought I had the postcard but it looks like I was mistaken.

  3. I am going to revise what I said in the previous comment, I do have the postcard (it was under Langhorn, PA, not Trevose where I was looking) and it does say that it was built by Comac Diners on the back.

  4. Larry! You needed to let Dick Gutman know about the Golden Arrow Diner. “American Diner Then and Now” has the Golden Arrow postcard (page 150) identified as an O’Mahony. Amazing that this mistake would get through if this same postcard says it’s a Comac. (If you look at this right next to the O’Mahony arrow style, you can see that it’s different.)

  5. “American Diner Then and Now” has the Golden Arrow postcard, page 150, identified as an O’Mahony. Amazing this error would get through if the same postcard says it’s a Comac. I guess every diner book has at least one mistake (except “Classic Diners of Massachusetts”, of course!)

  6. Pingback: English Diner No. 1 – Salisbury, MD | Diner Hunter

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