RB Drive In – Helena, Montana

The RB Drive in opened around 1945 as the Root Beer stand. For some great historical photos of it, please see: http://www.helenahistory.org/rb_drive_in.htm. Originally the foam of the pouring root beer was trimmed in horizontal bands of neon and sat on much higher poles.  It appears the building is the same one, but has seen many minor changes over the years which have entirely changed the look.

Every drive in I’ve been to out here has had a different set up for ordering and getting your food delivered.  Mark’s in Livingston is a walk up to order, walk up pick up and then you eat in your car.  Ford’s in Great Falls had car hop ordering and delivery.  Scotty’s you order inside a building and eat outside.  You get the idea.  The RB still has those classic push to talk menu boards at each parking place.  A large picnic pavilion has been built at the far end of the parking lot, but we ate in the car.

RB Drive In
932 Helena Ave, Helena, MT 59601

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Scotty’s Drive In – Idaho Falls, Idaho

Scotty’s has a nice space age look to the sign, and to the curvature of the supports for the canopy. Things get a bit visually cluttered with the retro tin signs and back-to-the-fifties theme on the inside, but on the whole it plays it pretty close to the original concept.  They make a nice drive-in burger with just the right crust to the flat-top grilled meat.
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Little Tavern Stools

Today was a big day for my Little Tavern collection. I picked up four new mugs, and eight stools. Three of the mugs are Jackson, one is Shenango. Four of the stools are from Washington No. 9 (1932, 5100 Georgia Ave NW) and four from Washington No. 15 (1936, 1200 Good Hope Rd SE).

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Buy ‘Em By The Bag

Little Tavern’s slogan used to be “Buy ‘Em By The Bag”.
I did, and I brought them back to the studio for some product shots. Mug is ’50s vintage.

The burgers came from the Laurel Tavern, formerly the Laurel location of the Little Tavern. They tracked down the original burger recipe and are still selling them, along with some really good fresh donuts. If you miss Little Tavern, take the trip, you won’t be disappointed. The building has lost its paneling, its neon and its interior, but they still deliver in the food department.

Laurel Tavern Donuts
115 Washington Boulevard Laurel, MD 20707

White Tower Sign

I made the drive down from Maryland to Midlothian VA today to pick this up.

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This neon sign was previously mounted on Richmond White Tower No. 1, which was located at 223 East Grace Street. It was originally built in 1939, and remodeled in 1960, which is probably when this sign was installed. The building is still there. It’s been de-towered, and painted, but it’s still recognizable.

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The Rosebud Diner – Somerville, MA

We stopped in here for breakfast on Monday morning. My corned beef hash was some of the best I’ve ever had. The Worcester semi streamliner has to be my favorite model of diner, and this one is in great shape. Great food in a great building in a great location. What’s not to love?

I later found out that I missed seeing Larry Cultrera (of Diner Hotline and Classic Diners of Massachusetts fame) by a matter of a few hours that day. Funny how those things happen.

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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.

Little Tavern Washington No. 22

While doing research at the Madison building of the Library of Congress, I happened across this picture, taken c.1940 of a Little Tavern located at 33-1/2 Independence Ave (more or less), which is the same location as the building in which I was doing my research. Construction started on the James Madison Memorial building in 1971.
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Great picture of a Little Tavern. I find it interesting that it appears there is no signage. I would guess this was taken before it opened?
I also love the building next door and the dark colored vitrolite (or maybe its enamel) that wraps the entire lot and the building next door.