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.

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

July 2012 Pennsylvania Diner Trip

The Prospect Diner has become our go to breakfast stop ever since it was taken over by Mike Conroy. It has become everything a diner should be. It’s a classic mid 1950s Kullman, a model transitioning into the space age. I think my first stop there was when I was about five years old, so you could say it’s been a tradition for a while. Every time we’ve been in, the diner is full of locals- always a good sign. The food is good, plentiful and inexpensive. I had chicken and biscuits, topped with sausage gravy. Side of (perfectly done) home fries, and coffee which, thanks to expert waitressing, never dipped beyond half empty.
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We traveled on from Columbia to Lancaster, passing the Columbia Diner, at 1725 Columbia Ave Lancaster, PA. It’s a remodeled ’50s Kullman, known as the Wheatland Diner from 1955 to 1973.
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Directly next door to the Columbia diner is this old McDonalds golden arch.
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A Frame. Bright’s Restaurant.
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Highlights of Ephrata, PA
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The main event, a meet up with Michael Engle and Glenn Wells at the Cloister Diner. The Cloister is a 1952 Silk City. It was remodeled in the 1960s. The end wall was removed to open the diner up to a dining room addition. The tile in the addition flows very nicely from the diner itself. Panels from the end wall were moved to replace the front door, which was also removed in the remodel. The original neon was kept on the roof during the remodeling, really the only hint from the exterior of what lies inside.

We were lucky enough to chat with the truly inspiring Elva Stauffer, the owner of the diner since 1972.
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Fresh homemade peach pie. It’s as good as it looks, believe me.
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With Glenn and Michael.
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Neon Sign

Here’s a recent addition to the collection- just arrived today.
This sign came off the Lincoln Diner in Chambersburg, PA. The diner itself is now long since gone.

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If any of you out there have a picture of the Lincoln Diner, I’d love to see it!

The 11th Street Diner – Miami Beach, Florida

This shot comes from my friend Luke Ryalls, who is down south on a trip with Dalhousie University architecture.
The 11th St. Diner is a 1948 Paramount, moved from Wilkes Barre, PA in 1992.

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Chick’s Diner- Scranton, PA

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time or room in our stomachs to eat at Chick’s Diner this time around, so this was just a photo stop. This well preserved Mountain View built diner is located at 1032 Moosic St Scranton, PA.

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