Somers Point Diner, Somers Point, NJ

We ended up finally eating lunch at the Somers Point Diner. At some point in the past couple of years, the Somers Point traffic circle was replaced by a intersection. The Circle Liquor Store across the road has lost its namesake. The Point diner was built by Fodero. Since the original postcard, it has lost the top of its pylon sign, gained a large addition, and an extra tier to the roof. I love the floor to ceiling glass of the vestibule and the dining room addition, where the bottom infill panels, instead of being stainless or stone are glass. It takes the space age diner design of more and more glass in the facade to its logical conclusion. Inside, the diner has been significantly re-done, though I really enjoyed the paintings of the Jersey shore in the 1960s which hang in the L of the diner.
The special of the day was a hot open faced roast beef sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. That used to be my default diner order, but I haven’t had one in a while. If it’s on special, I’m always game, so in went the order. My dad had his usual hamburger, plain (nothing on that), medium rare, with fries and a diet coke. Mine came out garnished with parsley and, as I discovered after biting in, a sliver of aluminum can. The mashed potatoes were over-watered and of the powdered variety. The meat was tough. I didn’t finish. My dad’s burger was alright, but was pre-formed and frozen. It all had Sysco written all over it.
Back in the car, and on to Margate to visit Lucy the Elephant. I think there will be a blog post about that leg of the trip over at Neon Dreamscapes shortly.

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The Rio Grande Diner – Middle Township, NJ

This was lunch stop candidate no. 2. It’s an early 1950s Mountain View Diner which has received the New Jersey treatment of stone and mansard. The distinctive lines of the cowcatcher corners are still visible, but have been covered, like the rest of the diner, in a stone veneer. We pulled in, I jumped out to take a quickie photo from the sidewalk before heading in, and within seconds someone had come out of the diner to hassle me for it. From previous experience, it’s always best to move along when that kind of thing happens. So we passed on lunch, I jumped back in the car, and off we went down the road.

The Rio Grande Diner is located at:
1305 New Jersey 47 Middle Township, NJ

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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

Diner Find- Mt. Vernon, New York

Mike Engle found a mention of a diner at this location in a 1933 newspaper. While greatly remodeled, this monitor roofed former diner is still recognizable. It is located on the Southeast corner of W. 1st street and Vista Place, Mt. Vernon, NY. Further info on the diner is being tracked down.

In 1930, the diner was owned by Joseph Rowall of Poland, who lived at 313 S. 6th Avenue. His roomer and fellow Polish immigrant, John Socker, was counterman in 1930, but would come to own the diner by 1936.

Edit: Found the name. As of 1931, it was the Joe and Larry, diner. By 1937, it dropped the full names and was called the J&L diner. The proper street address is 310 N. 1st St.

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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

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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