Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 New Year Resolution ... Eat in more diners.

Tonight,we're ringing in the New Year in .... home with good friends and a Family Game Night!  On the menus:

Food:  family fav - Nana's Italian Cookies (always lead with dessert) and Denise's Eclairs, Eveready Diner's Mac 'n Cheese and trying out MoGridder's Dry Rub on ribs.

Games: Left-Right-Center, Texas Hold 'Em, Trivial Pursuit: Bet You Know It,  Funglish, Scribblish or and Catchphrase (I'm a Hasbro girl, after all!)

Style: Slippers or cozy socks, pajama's or stretchy pants for all that food. Of course, no comfy New Year's is complete with out paper tiaras and glasses to view 2011 in style.

Drinks: In addition to the bubbly and beer, we're trying out Hot Buttered Rum and Winter White Sangria.

Need a resolution that you can keep? Support your local community - visit a diner, farmer's market, hardware store or library. (Mine is to do all that ... and blog about it!)

Happy and healthy New Year wishes to everyone.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Will Santa be stopping at Haven Brothers?


Christmas at The Modern

Let me know - I couldn't find their hours.  But, here's when your other fav RI diners will be open on Christmas Eve.

Hope Diner 742 Hope St., Bristol, Friday hours:
Snoopy’s Diner 4001 Quaker Lane, No. Kingstown Friday hours:
Modern Diner 364 East Avenue, Pawtucket, Friday hours:
Right Spot 200 South Bend Street, Pawtucket, Friday hours:
Seaplane Diner 307Allens Ave, Providence, Friday hours:
Liberty Elm Diner 777 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, Friday hours:
Bishop’s Fourth Street Diner 184 Admiral Kalbfus Rd., Newport Friday hours:
Denny’s Diner 444 Quaker Lane, Warwick, Open 24 hours. Friday hours: closing at

Patriot’s Diner 65 Founders Drive, Woonsocket, Open 24 hrs – closing at Christmas Day

Rumor has it:
Jigger’s Diner 145 Main St in East Greenwich reopened a few weeks ago. Does anyone know for sure? Also, what’s the status of the State Line Diner, 195 Danielson Pike, Foster, RI? Is the Denny’s Diner in Coventry a diner? What’s the scoop with a Russell’s Diner in CF?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Merry

The Liberty Elm Diner,
Providence, RI 2010
The week leading up to Christmas is always hectic ... and I love it. 

I'm one of those holiday geeks: love the music, love buying gifts, REALLY love wrapping the gifts (in front of the tree, with music in the background or maybe 'The Year Without A Santa Claus' in on the TV).

I love getting together with friends and I love visiting family or having people over to our house. 

Love The Season. And love those diners that do too. Check back Wednesday for a list of local diners and their holiday schedule.

In the meantime, enjoy Heatmizer by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Model Train Exhibit This Weekend

My husband has a few Lionel trains so we're going to check out the National Heritage Museum in Lexington this weekend. The HUB Division of the National Railroad Association will be setting up a display this Saturday (December 11) and Sunday (December 12).

Stuff you need to know:

Address: National Heritage Museum is located at 33 Marrett Road (at the intersection of
Route 2A and Massachusetts Avenue), Lexington, MA 02421
Phone: (781) 861-6559
Cost: $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members)

Deluxe Town Diner, 2008

Since I don't have good luck getting to Wilson's Diner (Main Street Waltham) when it is open, maybe we'll try the Deluxe Town Diner (Mount Auburn Street, Watertown) for lunch.

Any other suggestions?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is It A Diner - Nantucket, Massachusetts?

On the heels of Friday's post, I have a question .... does anyone know if this building is a diner or a dining car?

We were in Nantucket for the weekend for their Christmas Stroll. The Island has hosted it for the past 37 years, but this was my first 'Stroll'. Lots of fun!

The Coast Guard helps Santa out by giving him a ride to the Island on one of their boats. (Evidently reindeers can't swim.)

The restaurant was closed for the winter, so I guess I'll have to head back for Daffy Days in April. A weekend dedicated to yellow. Anyone interested?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Diners in Music Videos .. Are There Any?

After my Springsteen post, I started to wonder, how many other diners have been in music videos. There has to be more than a few, right? Well, that may be true - I'm just having a hard time finding them. Sure, there are many that feature a uniformed waitresses in either a coffee shop or restaurant ... but actual diners?

The answer depends on how you describe a diner. As with most things, the response varies depending on who you ask. While the local cafe may have the same spirit, a diner has been defined by aficionados as a self-contained restaurant built by either the Worcester Lunch Car Company, Swingle, DeRaffle or any of the other manufacturers of the time. It was then transported in one (maybe two) pieces to its location.

A quick search turned up these:

Brass in Pocket by the Pretenders.
Happy Days by Weezer
Tom's Diner by Susanne Vega

They're cool videos (check them out on YouTube) but they're just weren't filmed in diners.  Do you know of any?

A screen grab from "Girls in
their Summer Clothes"

And of course, it clearly is just another reason why Springsteen rocks.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nothing's finer than [fill in the blank] diner

Deltiology is the study and collection of postcards. Not that I had any idea what the word meant when I went to my first The Rhode Island Post Card Club (RIPCC) meeting. All I could see were hundreds of thousands of postcards ... and think that maybe, just maybe, the one card I was looking for was there, waiting for me to find it. Of course, while looking for that one card, I found a few others I liked along the way.

I now have a small collection of postcards. Topics include Large Letters (Greetings from:), Lucy The Elephant, Wigwam Villages, Motels, New England towns, various Roadside Attractions, Coney Island and of course Diners.

During the early 1900s, when stamps were just a penny, generic postcards were used by lunch cart owners to help advertise their diner. They would buy these sassy cards in bulk, stamp them with their diner's name and mail them out! There's no manufacturing info on the back of the card, but they're listed as part of Series No. 243. I know of 11 different cards and have six.
Lunch Wagon postcards
circa early 1900s
Does anyone have any further info?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bruce Springsteen ...

(Apologies, I'm not sure who took
 this photo. Sadly, it wasn't me!)

Before you raise an eyebrow, this really is a diner post!
Without gushing too much, Bruce Springsteen is one of my all time fav musicians.

I was researching an idea for a post when I came across this black & white photo of Springsteen.  It reminded me roadside landmarks often show up in his videos.

Image taken from The Roadside Diner
Most recently, the music video for "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" was partially filmed in The Roadside Diner, Wall, NJ. The Roadside was manufactured by the Silk City company in either the 40s or the 50s. Does anyone know for sure?

Either way, it looks to be a "must stop at" the next time you're in Jersey.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And so it continues ...

I started this blog as an assignment for a writing seminar. My class wraps up this week and I’m looking forward to maintaining Dishin’ About Diners. I’ve decide to treat the blog as my virtual scrapbook until I can sort out 20 years of paraphernalia and turn it into the ‘coffee table’ scrapbook that I’ve been dreaming of making.

That being said, now I wish I’d taken better notes – marking down all manufacturing info, history and details of where the diners are today. Luckily, Randy Garbin’s Diner Finder is a premium resource. I’m sure you’ll see a few posts ask for your help in remembering. Especially since some of the diners I’ve photographed are no longer in operation or (gasp) “updated” with mansard roofs, “retro” pink & black color schemes and Velvet Elvis paintings … what could be worse??

So thanks for coming along for the ride. I hope along the way my posts will make you smile, bring back a memory or inspire you to take the next exit when looking for a meal instead of rushing down the interstate, buzzing through a drive thru.

Look for Wordless Wednesdays to showcase some of my fav photos. Mondays and Fridays will have a story, a recipe, maybe even a question or two. 


Friday, November 12, 2010

Eveready's Mac 'n Cheese

There's no way around it a diner must have good food at a good value.  Although I do love a good neon sign or a nice porcelain exterior ... and a friendly waitress will help compensate for a not so "over easy" egg ...  but, back to the food.  There are a lot of diners serving up yummy, trendy and in some cases even gourmet food. 

I recently made the Eveready Diner’s Three Cheese Mac and Cheese. Built in 1995 by Paramount (currently known as Modular Concepts, Inc.) the Eveready is a "newer" diner located in New York's Hudson Valley.

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
1 pound elbow macaroni
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups cold milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound white cheddar cheese – shredded
4 ounces Romano cheese – shredded
4 ounces Asiago cheese – shredded
1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper (suggest cutting that in half)
2 cups panko
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley for garnish

1)       Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
2)       Bring a large pot of water to a boil to for the macaroni. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.
3)       Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and cook, whisking to make a paste/roux about 2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk vigorously until smooth. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Add a heavy cream, all three cheeses, the 1 tablespoon salt, and the pepper. Cook, stirring, until the cheeses are fully melted.
4)       Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a 9x13-inch baking dish and to with the panko crumbs. Bake until hot and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Top with the fresh parsley.
4 to 6 servings (Yeah, right – try 8! This is a hearty dish.) This recipe can be found in the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives cookbook.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Eveready Diner, Hyde Park, NY, 1997
Denise and I .. and  "Ed" at the diner!
More about the Eveready on Friday.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Twistee Treats

No, not diners - but also pre-fabricated and similar in spirit! Twistee Treat was a chain of ice cream restaurants founded in 1983. They started off with 23 locations in Florida.  The awesome thing is... they’re actually shaped like a giant ice cream cones.  A 28 foot tall, 20 foot wide soft serve ice cream come to be exact!

From what I’ve read, over 90 cones were manufactured over the years.  I have no idea how many still exist, although Florida still seems to be the hot spot. Additional locations were added in Missouri and Canada when a new Twistee Treat company took over the bankrupt existing company. Sadly the company ceased to exist in 2000.

Twistee Treats should stand proud along other cool 1980s innovations, including the Apple Mac computer, legwarmers, Transformers and glam rock hair bands.

I’ve only been to two .. so far.  There are a few I want to check out on our next family visit to Orlando. The Kissimmee one is right down the street from Orange World!  Check out for a list of locations .. and buildings for sale.

Twist of the Mist (Niagra Falls, NY 2006) / Twistee Treet (Jacksonville, FL 2010)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Homesick for RI's finest fare?

As Rhode Islanders, we all have "that" story - the first time we recieved the raised eyebrow after we ordered coffee milk in front of new college friends or asked a business partner for the best place to get stuffies closest to the office .... How far outside of New England you are when you make these foodie-faux-pas will determine how clearly you remember "the incident".

Its true that for such a small state, we certainly have a lot of Rhode Island-isms.

But, a new exhibit at Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University celebrates our 'quirky' culture in Rhode Island Small State, Big Taste. ( posted this video tour.)

My brother enjoys a Del's in 2003.

You have to admit, nothing is quite as refreshing as a Del's Frozen Lemonade on a hot summer day. 

There's even a mix - so whether you're trying educate those from the other less enlightened states or to bring a bit of home to those far away, you can make Del's anwhere you happen to be. 

Rhode Island Small State, Big Taste runs through July 1, 2011.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Diner Guru to Speak Monday, October 25, in East Providence

Richard Gutman wrote the book on diners. Literally. In 1979 he collaborated on American Diner. The first half of the book is a history of diners. The second is filled with intriguing black and white photos – of the restaurants, the people and the details that bring the diners to life. Track it down through your local library. He updated the book on his own in 1993 and changed the title slightly: American Diner, Then and Now. We attended a book signing at the Worcester Historical Society. It was the first time we “met” The Diner Historian … and I have the picture to prove it! Over the years I've had the good fortune of meeting Mr. Gutman both at his exhibit and even for breakfast.

Denise (left) and I wait to have our books autographed.1993

If it sounds like a bit of hero worship, it certainly was. But we're not the only ones impressed. A recent June article in begins, "What Jane Goodall is to chimpanzees and David McCullough is to John Adams, Richard Gutman is to diners." High praise, indeed.

Gutman is currently the curator at the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University and among his credits is an exhibit that is, without doubt, the most comprehensive permanent look at diners. The exhibit even features a ‘live’ restoration of the Ever Ready Diner. (My Ever Ready Diner story to follow in a future posting!)

He’s presenting “Diners: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” at the East Providence Historical Society, tomorrow, Monday, October 25 at Visitors welcome. Apple pie will be served.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Why Diners

When I tell people I'm interested in diners, they'll usually think of a local restaurant that may or may not be a diner but it is probably not the fanciest of places. Technically, a diner is a prefabricated structure that was brought on-site in one or two pieces. Some resemble dining cars from mid-century trains. Some are sleek and stainless steel. Some suffered unfortunate 'remodels' in the 1970s. But each diner has a life of its own.

They have a history and, sometimes even a neon sign that seems to say, 'C'mon in!' The story really starts once you get inside. There's so much more to see - the characteristics of a particular manufacturer, the people, the location. And, whether it's finding a diner I haven't been to yet (yes, trips routes are planned to include the maximum number of diners and/or roadside Americana stops) or visiting an familiar favorite,
you get to eat pancakes while you're checking out the place.

That's why I like diners.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Post ... and First Adventure

I'm taking a class and they've asked us to start a blog. Let's just say committing to a topic for a blog has been intimidating. I can’t say that I’ve had writer’s block – more of a case of writer’s indecision.  In the end, I keep coming back to “diners”.  

With so many great websites and blogs out there already, I wasn’t sure I could do "diners" justice. But I’m not competing with Gutman or Garbin ... or any of the other diner gurus that have tracked and in some cases created diner history.

This is all about me … my experiences and my favorites.

I began searching out diners in the early 90s. It wasn’t until Columbus Day weekend, almost exactly 20 years ago, when diners became “destinations”.

Some friends and I decided to go to New Hampshire on a whim.  (Translation – no hotel reservations.) While I was a little concerned, my friends weren’t.

The Midway Diner, Rutland, VT, October 1990
The day was spent driving to VT and hiking and stopped for dinner at the Midway Diner in Rutland for supper. We ended up spending most of the night hanging out in a booth, listening to the juke box….  Sounds like a fun plan, and it was fun … but I’m not sure how many of you caught the “no reservations” comment. 

We spent hours in a diner because we had no place else to go! Closest hotels were in Albany, NY or Maine.  We finally left (were asked to leave .. it was so long ago, really does it matter?!)

Off we go, back into the car to drive to who knows where. I think we opted for Maine and were headed east. Eventually we pulled into some rest area and slept in the car for a few hours. Not comfortable, but makes for a great story. I do remember the shortest person had the entire back seat to themselves.

Before sunrise, after washing up in a bubbler, we took off again. If you turned me around blindfolded, I couldn’t have been less aware of where we were.  At some point we crossed the Vermont border into New Hampshire.

To this day, I swear we saw some sort of creature – a deer or bear ... something cross the road in front of us just before this diner appeared, as if a vision, right int front of us. Our luck had changed because not only did we find Jay’s Sweetheart Diner*, the neon was on … it was open!

And so my Diner Adventures began.

*Jay's is now the Sunny Day Diner on Rt. 3 in Lincoln, NH. Built by the Master Co. in the mid-1950s.