The Top Notch Lunch, Great Falls, Montana

With a fabulous 3D neon sign and a bank of stools, how could I stay away from this charming lunch counter?
Just around the corner from the Sip and Dip / O’Hare’s Motor Inn, I met Beth Lennon of Retro Roadmap and Cliff Hillis here for a chicken fried steak, to recover from the previous night’s fishbowl (more on that later) and to stoke up for what would prove to be a long day of thrifting.

Brian’s Top Notch Cafe
718 Central Ave, Great Falls, MT 59401
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The Amherst Diner – Winchester, Virginia

Some photos from when I first visited the Amherst Diner, six years ago. Purely by chance, my father and I hit it on the day of their grand re-opening. I was interviewed for the Winchester Star. An excerpt from the story appears below.

A Maryland teen with the day off from school dug into some sausage gravy on Wednesday during his first visit to the Amherst.
Spencer Stewart, 15, of Olney, didn’t know he had appeared on the first day of Ashby’s tenure.
His father Michael, an architectural photographer, took photos and served as the driver for their Winchester excursion, which was slated to include the Piccadilly Grill, Snow White Grill, and perhaps the Triangle Diner.
He likes the food, and said he is interested in them because they’re disappearing.
He and his father often take day trips to eateries within two or three hours of their home, and they’ve also taken longer excursions along the East Coast.
Spencer is now filling his third journal’s worth of notes on diners.
And while Spencer may revisit the Amherst in the future, patrons such as Swartz and Heishman plan on appearing at the counter every morning.
“As long as they stay open, we’ll be here,” Heishman said.

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The Amherst diner is an old on-site family restaurant. I wouldn’t count it as a on-site built diner, because it does not conform to the aesthetic of factory built diners.