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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Pictures from the road – Missoula, Montana

This was just a quick day trip to Missoula, combing through the thrift and antique shops for my business, Vintage Haberdashers. I hope you enjoy the pictures!
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Famous Restaurant – Texas Hot Wieners – York, PA

In this day and age of 20 page Greek mega-diner menus, a traditional hot dog restaurant like the Famous is refreshing. Yes, they’ll do you a hamburger, and they’ll cook you up a breakfast. But when a place advertises hot dogs on the sign out front, why would you order anything else?
And these don’t disappoint. Before dogs are cut down the middle about 3/4 through, and then cut about every inch. They’re opened up and grilled flat on the griddle. The bun is lightly toasted. A layer of mustard, of chili sauce, and a mound of chopped raw onions finish it off.
For such a simple dish, every hot dog place seems to put its own twist on the old standby. The Famous Restaurant’s chili sauce is a bit darker and sweeter than other Texas Hot Wiener places in the area.
The restaurant is a time warp. While it’s not my preferred decade, it’s always nice to see places so well preserved. Orange vinyl and wood grain formica set the tone. The grill is in the front window, as is typical with these storefront Texas Hot places, and the counter dominates the seating, as it should.

The Famous Restaurant is located at:
652 W Market St
York, PA 17401
(717) 848-2300

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Another entry in the Weiner/Wiener spelling debate.
The York, PA, Famous Restaurant spells it Wiener

The Texas Hot Weiner lunch in Hanover spells it Weiner
The Famous Lunch in Hanover spells it Wiener on their wall signage, and Weiner on their neon.
Curtis’ in Cumberland, MD spells it Weiner
Ernie’s in Gettysburg spells it Weiner

Frazer Diner- Frazer, PA

I was sent these pictures by my old man, who visited on Friday.

The Frazer diner is a 1935 O’Mahony, originally located in and named the Paoli diner. (Paoli is also the home of the Philadelphia curling club, where I’ve spent a lot of time). It was moved in 1957 to its current location, just down the road, in Frazer. It was renovated/restored in 2002.
A photo of it before the work was done, showing the old awnings, can be found at:
A photo of the old neon sign can be found at: The American Roadside




The Charcoal Pit- original location – North Wilmington

The Charcoal Pit Tradition dates back to September 1956 when it first opened its doors. The “Pit” – referred to by loyal customers, became such an instant success that only after three months from the grand opening, it was decided to build more room for its long line of hungry customers. The “Pit” went from a small four table and a counter burger joint to a 115 customer-seating establishment.



Halifax and Beyond October 31, 2008

BUD the SPUD – established 1977

We Welcome All Tourists

Specializing in Homemade french fries

Old Fashioned Chip Wagon


Church- downtown Halifax

Doorway, Halifax. Reminds me of the style of Lane Smith


Moffatt’s – established 1924 – Dartmouth


Big Teeth – Dartmouth

Quick Lunch – Dartmouth

Old ford- Dartmouth

South End Diner – Halifax Nova Scotia

I ate lunch here today. The interior of the diner features a horseshoe shaped counter, with a grill in back, and padded bongo stools. Every inch of the walls are covered in commemorative and souvenir plates.

I had the cheeseburger, which came topped with grilled onions, relish and mustard, and an order of french fries. The burger had that wonderful lunch counter taste, juicy on the inside, a little crispy on the outside.

South End Diner – Eat in – Take Out


Here it is, showing how close it is to the Olympic Confectionary. Both are across the street from the rail station and the bus terminal.

The Olympic

The South End Diner is located at:
1128 Barrington Street
Halifax, NS B3H 2R2

March 1, 2010

The M&M Cafe – Butte Montana

According to the Butte city webpage, the M+M has been open since 1890. It is half lunch counter and half bar, the bar being the counter on your left as you walk in, the lunch counter being the one on your right. In the back is gaming.

Food at the cafe is excellent, and as it is cooked behind the counter, you get a show as you wait. The stools are a type I have never seen before, with a vertical “twist” ripple to their top. The cafe logo is embossed in their seat covers.

We were in Butte, working the National Folk Festival, and hit up the cafe twice, once during the three day festival, and once a day after. While the event was in town, the M&M was standing room only. It was so full and swamped that we gave up. The second time was different, slower, once the festival had left town, and it was back to mostly locals.

I love the juxtaposition of the M&M and the R&R. The Neon, the hand painted sign on the side of the building and the lettering in the trimwork up top all proudly announce the name of the cafe. The stainless facade adds some sparkle to the old brick building. The current neon was added sometime after 1939. A different piece is found in this 1939 picture of the cafe on Shorpy. The town doesn’t look all that different, though than it did 70 odd years ago.