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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The Mint Bar – Sheridan, Wyoming

I passed through Sheridan last week on the way out to South Dakota. Unfortunately, it was on a Sunday, so the Mint, opened in 1907, was closed. It’s definitely a must stop on my next trip out that way. What a neon!

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The Mint Bar
151 N Main St, Sheridan, WY 82801
mintbarwyo.com

English Diner No. 1 – Salisbury, MD

 

Thompson’s Diner opened in 1929 at 209 East Main Street, Salisbury, Maryland. The barrel roofed diner was bought by Jack English in either 1934 or 1936, depending on the source, and was the first of what was to be a diner empire on the Eastern Shore.

According to a 1967 article in the Salisbury Daily Times, “Mr. English, a Riverton farm boy who attended business college here by hose and buggy. . . worked in canneries, for Victor Talking Machine in Camden, NJ, and starting as an order boy for the American Stores Co. he became manager of the Philadelphia store, later becoming general manager of the New Jersey Area.

In the 1930s, the old 36 barrel roof was traded in on a large L-shaped double monitor roof graft, then again for an L shaped c.1947 O’Mahony “arrow” style diner. With its dining room addition, this diner sat 200. The diner survived long enough to make it into the guide in the back of Richard Gutman’s “American Diner Then and Now”, but has since been replaced with a mansard roofed brick office.  It appears that part of the dining room or kitchen still stands. photo EastMain.jpgA big thanks to Ed Engel for bringing the 1960s article to my attention. I’ve been searching for info to fill the gaps on the English Diner chain for years!

The DeLite/Deluxe Diner – Harrisburg, PA

A Brill Steel Diner arrived in Harrisburg, PA on July 1, 1929 from the factory in Springfield, MA. Its installation was supervised by Robert H. Lewis of the J.G. Brill Co., who had been in Harrisburg on a sales trip in March of 1929.  It was originally set up at 329 Walnut Street and cost $12,500. The diner was owned by Robert B. Brown of 259 Seneca Street, who had previously owned diners in Philadelphia. He operated the diner from 1929 until his suicide in 1933. His widow, Gertrude Brown, took over the diner and ran it until 1940, when the YMCA expanded their building onto the site and the diner was forced to move.

The newspapers and directories have a bit of confusion about the name.  1929, 1930, 1931 have it listed as the DeLuxe Diner. 1930 has the DeLite Diner at 239 Walnut. In 1933, the DeLite diner shows up at 325 Walnut Street, listed in the directory alongside the DeLuxe, still at 329 Walnut.  Later, the DeLuxe Disappears from the listings and the DeLite begins to be listed at 329. Articles about the removal of the diner for the YMCA expansion alternately refer to it as the DeLuxe and the DeLite. “Deluxe” was a standard name for Brill Diners of the period.
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The Lemoyne Diner, Lemoyne, PA

The Lemoyne Diner opened on March 25, 1941 at the corner of Third and Market Street, Lemoyne, PA.  It was built by the Jerry O’Mahony Dining Car Company and was originally owned by Robert Stanley Viguers. The diner closed in 1981. It sat “in storage” until 1990, when it was moved to Baltimore.  It never opened there, and was moved to Providence, RI in 2002. It was moved to Ontario, Canada six years ago, and I haven’t heard any news of its restoration since. The Lemoyne was open for 40 years, and has been closed and traveling for 33.  photo lemoyne-Copy-Copy.jpg
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The Club Diner – Harrisburg, PA

The Club Diner was built by the Jerry O’Mahony Dining Car Company and opened on May 22, 1939. Its original owner was Harry H. Schell. The Club Diner is still in business, at 319 S 17th St, Harrisburg, PA. I’ve driven by several times, but never been inside, so I’m unclear whether the current diner is a greatly remodeled O’Mahony Monarch, or if it’s a later replacement. If anyone has interior shots, I’d love to see them. photo clubdiner-Copy-Copy.jpg

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The City Line Diner, Harrisburg, PA

 

The City Line Diner was located at 1946 Paxton Street, Harrisburg, PA. It was built by the Jerry O’Mahony Dining Car Company,  and opened on October 25, 1940. It was originally owned by C.H. Wertz Jr. The diner sat 36, 22 at stools, and another 24 at six booths. It was painted the usual 1930s-1940s color scheme of white and green.

According to an article from the opening, at the time of its construction, this was one of the widest diners in Pennsylvania, which necessitated that its transport from New Jersey be entirely by truck, instead of the usual rail transport. Police had to close roads for its transportation, as it took up both lanes of the two lane highways upon which it traveled.

The diner was replaced in 1956 with Mountain View no.478. It was demolished in 1981. photo cityline-Copy2-Copy.jpg

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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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The Camden Diner, Baltimore, MD

I just got in the negative for this photo- the Camden Diner. The diner was located at the corner of Howard and Pratt, by Camden Station. Nothing in the photo still stands, having been redeveloped for the convention center and for Camden Yards. The photo was taken on June 19, 1948. The diner doesn’t seem to have lasted long under this name, I can only find records of it as such from the late 1940s through early 1950s.
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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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