The Capitol Diner, Harrisburg, PA

The Capitol Diner, located at 615 N. Cameron Street, in the shadow of the State Street Bridge, opened on October 2, 1940.  It sat on a 10,000 square foot lot, roughly where the Goodwill donation is currently. The diner was built by the Jerry O’Mahony company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and was originally owned by James S. Banford and Richard K. Enders. It had a brown paint scheme and sat 25, 17 at the counter and 8 at four deuce tables.

By the summer or 1941, directories list the lot as the site of a used car dealership, which it would remain for decades. It is unclear what became of the diner.

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The Garden State Diner, Elizabeth, NJ

Here’s another shot from my collection. It’s by the same photographer as yesterday’s post, and like the other picture, was taken from a moving car and developed in February of 1969. Captioned Newark, NJ, although Kevin Patrick has corrected the photographer’s location, with the address 156 Spring Street, Elizabeth, NJ.
Even though the Garden State was only about 20 years old when this picture was taken (the equivalent of a diner built in the mid 1990s today), it’s seen better days, with broken and boarded windows throughout.
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Ward and Dickinson

I got this photo in the mail earlier today. It was taken in 1947, but other than that, I don’t have much to go on as far as identifying the location goes. The photographer just missed name of the diner on the sign, and there is just too much film grain to be able to read any of the menu board inside. A nearby barbershop must have been moving or have been evicted, with all of its equipment sitting on the street in front of the diner at night. The vestibule is a crude affair, and the flowerboxes are gone. The sign is showing clear signs of age.
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The Mt. Penn Diner – Reading, PA

The Mt. Penn Glass Front Diner was located at the east end of the Lindbergh Viaduct in Reading, PA. It looks like it was located roughly at 2101 Howard Blvd, where Arner’s Family Restaurant is now. (A real estate listing for that restaurant can be found here). The diner is certainly an unusual one. The extreme width (for the pre-war period) is reminiscent of diners built by General and by Bixler, however the roof curvature and detailing is wrong. More than likely it was built on-site by a local contractor. I will give them credit, though, this is a well executed job if that’s what it is.

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This photo is from a menu I have in my collection dating from 1941. Some fun facts about the diner from that menu:
Do you know? That we employ 24 people in the diner, 24 hours.
Do you know? That we average over 25,000 patrons monthly.
Do you know? That this is America’s only Vitrolux Glass front diner and Pennsylvania’s Finest.
Do you know? That you have only a five (5) minute drive from the diner to the Chinese pagoda on the Sky Line Boulevard. (Dinerhunter note: It’s worth noting that they’re referring to it as a “Chinese” pagoda. Possibly to do with the Anti-Japanese sentiment of the war-time years.)

Quality food at the lowest possible price is our first consideration
We select all our employees, and instruct them to be civil, kind and thoughtful, even under the most trying circumstances.
We think you have a right to know the quality of food we are serving.

It may interest you to know: That we only use Idaho Potatoes – the world’s finest and that we served more than 60,000 pounds in 1940.
That all our french fried and julienne potatoes are cooked to order in our modern electric fryers.
That we use only the highest grade vegetable shortening for all our cooking and baking.
That in 1940 we used more than 100,000 Berks County fresh eggs, supplied by a reliable farmer. All our eggs are fried in pure dairy butter.

Do you know? That we used 6,000 pounds of creamery butter in 1940
That we served 215,000 cups of coffee the same year.
That we served 5,650 quarts of pure cream for coffee in 1940.
That we served 15,500 quarts of milk during the year 1940.

Do you know? That we grind our own hamburger fresh daily, from choice young beef rounds, and that we served more than 18 tons during 1940.
That we use Swift’s special bacon and choice beef.
That we use Heinz ketchup and tomato juice exclusively.
That we use Spanish onions- the sweetest in America.

We Do Know
That our success depends upon your satisfaction and your recommendation. . . If your food is not as you expect it to be, please oblige the management by having your waitress return same. We do appreciate your patronage.

The Medport Diner – Medford, NJ

We had dinner at the Medport Diner. It’s a L-shaped DeRaffele- built diner, with a stainless steel A-frame style vestibule.
122 New Jersey 70 Medford, NJ. While it’s a big diner, its floor plan, with the L shape, and a row of booths between the counter and the row of booths at the window, keep it cozy. I feel that from the ’60s onward, as diners grew ever larger, they lost the intimacy of earlier ones which harbors interaction. Despite its capacity, this DeRaffele design manages to keep the local vibe of earlier models. The interior got a facelift early last year (photos), but it’s fairly complementary, and I much prefer it to the “retro” look so many are revamping their diners with.
The food was good and plentiful, and while the menu was extensive, enough of the options were variations on basic ingredients. Those typically NJ diner menus with 15 pages of everything-under-the-sun always overwhelm me and make me a bit nervous. I settled on the Texas burger, a cheeseburger with barbecue sauce, and a side of Disco Fries. From my years living in Canada, I became a bit of a poutine junkie, and having moved back to the US, I’ve been jonesing for my next fix. Disco fries are mozza and gravy on fries. They’re not curds, but the idea and flavor’s there. The cheese on the burger was particularly melty and the burger was juicy and flavorful. A great diner and a great way to round out the day.

The Medport Diner is located at:
122 New Jersey 70 Medford, NJ

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The Rio Grande Diner – Middle Township, NJ

This was lunch stop candidate no. 2. It’s an early 1950s Mountain View Diner which has received the New Jersey treatment of stone and mansard. The distinctive lines of the cowcatcher corners are still visible, but have been covered, like the rest of the diner, in a stone veneer. We pulled in, I jumped out to take a quickie photo from the sidewalk before heading in, and within seconds someone had come out of the diner to hassle me for it. From previous experience, it’s always best to move along when that kind of thing happens. So we passed on lunch, I jumped back in the car, and off we went down the road.

The Rio Grande Diner is located at:
1305 New Jersey 47 Middle Township, NJ

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Elmer Diner – Elmer, NJ

Breakfast ended up being at the Elmer Diner, which I last visited about seven years ago. A diner on the site goes back to the 1920s. The ’50s incarnation has been turned perpendicular to the road, gutted and has been used for the past forty odd years as a dining room. The main diner is a 1970s model with bay windows. Since I was there last, an argyle pattern has been painted on the vestibule, and stainless has been added to the exterior of the dining room. I had the 2+2+2 special, 2 pancakes with cream chipped beef, bacon and sausage. Dad had scrambled eggs, bacon, homefries and toast. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the bacon memes and bacon craze of the past couple of years, but it seems that diners now include much more bacon than they did just a couple of years ago.

The Elmer Diner is located at:
41 Front St Elmer, NJ 08318

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Diner Builder: National Glass and Mfg. Co

The National Glass & Manufacturing Company, INC was based at 212 South 9th Street, Fort Smith, Arkansas. The company was founded in 1929 by its president, William E. Stell, and built primarily showcases, restaurant fixtures and display cases. They first introduced their diner design in the mid 1940s, designed by Stell and architect Glenn Pendergrass.

The diners were built in the factory in Fort Smith, knocked down in sections and shipped to the site.  In the case of the Russellville location, it only took six days for the restaurant to open. There does not seem to have been a standard length to this company’s diners, just a standard module.Photobucket

The prototype Old South Restaurant was located at 711 South Towson Avenue, Fort Smith, AR. It was managed by R. C. Strub, formerly of Schwab’s, NYC. It was demolished in the 1970s.

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Another “Old South Restaurant” opened at 1330 East Main St, Russellville, AR on April 4, 1947. The original owner was Woody Mays. It still stands, in tact, operating under its original name. More pics can be found HERE

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The Shamrock Restaurant, located at 2719 Midland Blvd. opened in the late 1940s, but doesn’t appear to have stayed in business very long. By 1960, the building was home to the Woolbright Fixture Company. It was recently home to the Coyote Sports Bar (now closed).

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Gordon Adkins No. 1 was located at 3614 Roosevelt Road, Little Rock, AR. It later became Hank’s Catering House.
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Gordon Adkins No. 2 was located at the corner of 10th and Broadway, Little Rock, AR. It later became the Ritz Grill.
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Ben Stanley’s Cafe, located on Rt. 66 in Miami, Oklahoma opened on February 8, 1947. As with the others, its postcard advertised National Glass and Manufacturing in addition to the restaurant itself.
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