DeBest Diners – Solid Gold Diners

DeBest Diners were built by Lester Timmerman and Ray Larson, previously of Commander Buildings, in Cedar Rapids exclusively for the Solid Gold Diner chain, owned by Timothy Costigan and Steve Strauss. Costigan and Strauss got the idea for these retro-themed diners after seeing a similarly retro model in Atlanta, Georgia. Dinermite Diners was based out of Atlanta, so the design similarities between the two manufacturers are surely not accidental. The company built two diners, and were in operation from 1989 to 1990.


Their first diner opened in Columbus Junction, Iowa in October of 1989, with a second opening at 130 Sugar Creek Lane ,North Liberty in March of 1990.

Diner no. 1 had closed by 1992, and was relocated to 3347 Agency St. (Burlington Plaza West), Burlington, Iowa, after some delays owing to a sub-code concrete foundation.

A larger location, built on-site, opened in Cedar Rapids in the summer of 1994, located in Wiley Plaza, 2133 Wiley Blvd. SW. It had closed by January 1995.

Debest Diner No. 1 was sold, and moved again in 1995 from its Burlington Plaza location to the 400 block of Locust St, Sterling, IL. Color photos of it being installed in its new location can be seen here. There is still a diner-proportioned building on the site, but the door and window placement is all wrong. Does anyone know what ended up happening to this diner?

The North Liberty location (Diner No. 2) had a “suspicious” fire in January 1996 and never reopened. It was purchased by Hans Peter Beyeler and Alex Dahm in 1997, and moved to Switzerland, with the hope of setting it up south of Bern, and reopening it there by summer of 1997.
I can’t find any info as to the diner actually being moved, or if it was set up in Switzerland according to plan.

That address is currently home to Cooley Auto Sales, who opened a year after the sale of the diner to Beyeler and Dahm. Their offices (Picture) have the same proportions and layout as the diner which was (is?) on the site, although what is there now is covered in siding and capped with a standard peaked roof. Either the international shipping plans fell through, or what is currently on the site was built on the existing diner foundation and it was just easiest to follow its form.






Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s