Quoddy Wigwam Gift Shop – Perry, Maine

We stopped to eat lunch across the road from this place at an old family restaurant.
It’s located on Route 1 in Perry Maine, and appears to be for sale.

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Some of Quoddy’s classic moccasins

In 1909 Harry Smith Shorey started making his own shoes in Downeast Maine. Today, the tradition continues in Perry , on the shores of Passamaquoddy Bay, smack dab on the 45th parallel; half-way to the North Pole and as far east as you can travel in the continental U.S.

Source: Quoddy History

For more info, view the Quoddy Wigwam Gift Shop website (last updated 2004) The following interior photos are sourced from that website

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The Old Dog Wagon Puts on the Dog

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It started out as a humble imitator of the swanky dining car, but now its menus and marvels have made it into a roadside Ritz

By Gardner B. Soule

THE eating places with the most elaborate menus in the wold, in the fastest service and the most customers are not the restaurants of Paris but instead are mass-produced in U.S. plants.

The roadside diner- the long, narrow, silver-colored affair that looks like a railroad dining car – has become the fanciest, speediest and busiest of eating establishments.

The story begins more than 60 years ago, in 1892, the year Charles Duryea successfully operated the first gasoline driven horseless carriage in America. In that year a man named Charles Palmer started using horse-drawn wagons to carry hot frankfurters and beans to workmen in Worcester, Mass., factories.

What grew out of Duryea’s invention is well known. What came from Palmer’s idea is not. But as Americans took to the highways, the diner took out after the cars, and by 1953 the diner was as different from Palmer’s dog-and-bean wagon as a 1953 Cadillac is from Duryea’s gasoline buggy:

– Instead of Palmer’s menu of two choices, the 1953 diner has a menu that may run to six pages and include lobster Cantonese, crepes Suzette and champagne.

– Instead of taking the time that the Greasy Spoon used to require to prepare a meal, the 1953 diner is engineered to get the average customer in, fed and out in 20 minutes.

– Instead of peddling food to workmen only, the 1953 diner caters to men, women and children, even to clubs. It caters to truck drivers still (although the tip-off to a diner’s popularity is no longer rows of Freuhaufs but a parking lot full of Fords, Buicks – and up). It caters, above all, to families.

– Instead of functioning at night only (this got Charles Palmer suspected as the operator of a sinister trade), the modern diner is open 24 hours a day. “We don’t have a key,” says Martin Rich, who owns a diner near Port Chester, N.Y., on U.S. 1 ” I forgot where I put it.”

– Instead of being an establishment of doubtful hygiene, the 1953 diner has steel counters, leather or plastic seat covers, terrazzo floors, chrome decorations and a plastic ceiling. All- including the ceiling- can be wiped clean instantly with a damp cloth.

– Instead of seating six or eight persons at a counter only, as Palmer’s wagons did, the modern diner has tables, booths and counters, and seats as many as 137.

– Instead of being carpenter built wooden wagons, today’s diners are stainless steel, chromium plated, air conditioned, fully insulated, fluorescent lighted, deluxe eating establishments with as many accessories as a 1953 automobile. They are constructed on assembly lines with power tools, largely from prefabricated parts.

The man who changed the wooden lunch wagon into a streamlined steel car was a New Yorker named Jerry O’Mahony. He ran a diner a 7th Ave and 34th Street in 1913. Did well, too. Made $1,380 that year. But customers asked where he got his wooden diner. So he had his carpenter build some, and sold them for $300 each ($6461 in 2009). Then he kept on building diners.

Today Jerry O’Mahony, Inc. of Elizabeth, N.J. is the biggest of about a dozen companies making diners. Others include Silk City Diner, Inc., and Paramount Diner Corp. at Paterson, N.J. and Kullman Dining Car Co. at Harrison N.J. New Jersey is the state that makes the diner.

Prices Have Gone Up

O’Mahony’s prices have gone up. “Our diners,” the company boasts, “are the most expensive you can buy.” Selling prices start at $36,000 (34 seats) and go up to $110,000 (those 137 seaters)

An O’Mahony diner is delivered to its owner complete: with sinks, stoves, refrigerators, walk in freezers (a diner buys a side of beef at once), plumbing, air conditioning, heating, automatic dish washers, steam tables, phone booths, counters, stools, pots, pans, waitresses uniforms, china, napkins, silverware, toothpicks, rest rooms, fudge pumps, food warmers, and juke box outlets offering a choice of up to 100 records.

O’Mahony will include television sets if you insist, but doesn’t like to. TV keeps the customers staying longer than that 20 minutes without increasing the money they spend.

Some O’Mahony diners come with a private mahogany office for the owner, complete with built in shower.

The prospective owner usually pays only about one-fourth down. The O’Mahony company has an interest, therefore, in the owner’s success and checks the proposed location before it sells every diner. Traffic past the proposed site is surveyed.

The prospective owner is combed over pretty hard, too. O’Mahony won’t sell to an absentee owner because, with an absentee, more food goes out the back door than out the front.

If a location fails to pay off, a 1953 diner can be jacked up, put on wheels and hauled to a more promising spot. But so thorough are these surveys that not one O’Mahony diner has had to be moved in the past 10 years. Instead, bigger diners are continually replacing those whose business has outgrown them.

$1,250 a Week

An owner’s possibilities for profit are better than Jerry O’Mahony’s were in 1913. Today the net may run $1,250 a week. “Financial security,” says an O’Mahony circular, “is yours for the asking.”

Martin Rick, who runs the Old Post Grill diner on U.S. 1, has gone out after that financial security with an O’Mahony diner. His menu is almost as long as the highway. He sells coffee only and also five-course dinners. He specializes in Hungarian goulash and seafoods. He offers your choice of salads, cold cuts, sodas, sundaes and a dozen categories of desserts. You can wash all this down wish champagne ($6 a bottle) or with anything else. Here Rich’s is different from the typical diner, which does not serve liquor.

The kitchen at Rich’s is a masterpiece of compactness. All cooking apparatus is condensed into a space the size of a truck body – friers, baking ovens, short order grills, heavy duty ranges, sinks, storage. The only food prepared in front of the customer is ice cream dishes.

None of Rich’s waitresses has to walk more than 34 feet in any direction to fill an order. This allows Rich to maintain that 20-minute schedule, an important factor with the average check around 60 cents. His 92 seat diner has fed 2500 people in one day

Diners Heading West

Observing the success of Rich and others, the O’Mahony company is expanding. It has just opened a plant in St. Louis, the first one to mass produce diners west of New Jersey. Transportation costs from the factory to a site are high, and most of the 6,000 U.S. diners are in the East, near the New Jersey factories. But soon, the company hopes, O’Mahony steamlined diners will dot highways everywhere.

In the West, diners will have to compete with deluxe drive ins which are rare in the East. No problem, a diner executive said. Drive-ins have limited menus, he insisted, and predicted that diners would beat them.

Customers Come in Limousines

What the company doesn’t add, enterprising owners will. One owner in the East put Baked Alaska on his menu and became a success. Dozens of owners have added tablecloths and freshly cut flowers to their tables. This has worked so well at one diner – in Aberdeen, MD – that three regular customers arrive daily in chauffeur-driven limousines.

But a diner out on New Jersey 29 has added the crowning touch – a headwaiter, complete with tuxedo, who seats the guests. Yet if you approach this headwaiter in shirtsleeves, in overalls or behind a day’s growth of beard, he will seat you promptly and won’t even raise an aristocratic eyebrow.

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Tastee Diner, Laurel, Maryland

As far as diners within a reasonable drive go, the Tastee in Laurel is my favorite. Great food, served fast in a nicely designed diner by a rare maker, Comac. The Tastee sits on an island of land between US 1 North and US 1 South, with entrances to the parking lot from both sides. It sits with the old train station to its right, and the old Little Tavern to its left. The kitchen, a small dining room, and the T.D. Lounge are all housed in the original brick addition.

This Tastee Diner was built by Comac in 1951, and replaced an earlier monitor roof diner at the location. The manufacturer is rare as they were only in business for four years or so. Their tag is found above the door. It opened as the Laurel Diner, but was bought by the local diner chain, Tastee Diner, which once had locations in Fairfax, Va, Rockville, MD, Bethesda, MD and Silver Spring, MD, as well as sponsoring an award winning duckpin bowling team after WWII. The Fairfax location is now known by its original name, the 29 diner, the Rockville location is long gone, but the Silver Spring and Bethesda ones are still going strong.

The two original neon signs still stand on either end of the diner, a silhouetted chef perpetually beckoning hungry travelers. The sign’s original neon reading “Laurel” is long since replaced with “Tastee”. The sign also originally read “Air Conditioned / Steaks-Chops / Cocktails / Patron Parking”. By the 1980s, “chops” had been replaced by “pizza”, and a sign for the adjacent motel had been added. Those have been gone for years, though.

The outside of the diner has changed very little in all the years since it was installed, with the exception of the usual wear and tear. Inside is also in good condition, with some changes made over the years, but nothing, with the exception of televisions, which detracts terribly. They are now smoke-free, which is nice.

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The “New” Laurel Diner- Restaurant and Liquor Store – “Before and after the races, as always your best bet.. is the Laurel Diner

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The Laurel Diner showing the neon

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Later postcard from the Laurel Diner

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Copyright Michael G. Stewart
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Old slide of the diner. Copyright Michael G. Stewart

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an early ’80s view of the . Copyright Michael G. Stewart

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The sign c 2007

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The Tastee Diner c 2006

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Comac Inc. Builders of Better Diners – Irvington, NJ
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Inside the diner. Note the newer stools and tile floor over the original terrazzo. Booths are presumably original old-syle dark wood.

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2007
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Me in the diner yesterday. The double cheeseburger was gooey and delicious on a perfectly toasted bun, with a side of homemade mashed potatoes. The refills on the crushed ice filled cokes came before I could finish even half of the previous one. The name of the diner says it all.

Laurel Little Tavern

Here’s the current status of the Laurel Little Tavern, Now the Laurel Tavern, post remodel.

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January 2006

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March 2007

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August 2008

To see some older photos of this one, look at the Diner Hotline, a wonderful blog, and a wonderful resource.

According to wikipedia,

Little Tavern(Laurel Md.)was closed by Little Tavern Shops LLC.(Parent Co.)All Use of Licensing Agreement and Trade Marks canceled for said Property at said time. Little Tavern Shops has nothing to do with present on site operation and the (new on site operation)is not licensed to operate as Little Tavern Shops or use any of Little Tavern Shops Logo’s, Sayings, or Trade Marks. As of April 30.2008, the last little Tavern Shop was closed, with all othes being closed over the past two years as leases expired, under a long term plan for a New Little Tavern Store Operation, to fit within Fast Food Market Resturant Operation of today. Little Tavern Shops is now moving ahead with It’s New Operation’s and the planned Licensing of, Free Satnding and Shoppiong Center Stotr Loction in, Md-Del-Pa-Va-Area’s. But Still Maintaining It’s old time Qualtiy of “Style and Food Service” For Futher Information please contact Little Tavern Shops LLC. C/O (Marketing) Jecco Co. Inc. 410-661-4394 Fax 410-661-4394 The Hereof statement has been prepared, approved and authorized by James E. Cumbest Jr. T/A Little Tavern Shops LLC. Carroillton Bank Building 1740 E. Joppa Rd. Balto. 21234

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The original is gone. The beautiful original neon signage, the last remaining is gone. The backbar with the green mirrored panels, built as per Harry F. Duncan’s original 1933 Patent, D89950, is gone. The stools, the tile, everything that made it the original is gone. The rest, closed, their buildings converted or torn down. We lost the Silver Spring Little Tavern, the one with the yellow roof, just a few months ago.

I am saddened by the passing of the original, the real Little Tavern. May she rest in peace.