Diner Daze – Where Did the Craze Begin?

Diners are a food lovers’ destination. What could be better than gathering for a satisfying meal with your friends and family? You may be wondering where and when the diner craze began and what keeps it going.  

Walter Scott created the first diner in 1872.  He sold food from a horse-pulled wagon to people who worked at the Providence Journal in Providence, Rhode Island. Scott’s wagon had windows on each of its sides. While this first “lunch wagon” began the diner concept, it soon became popular with more carts and proud owners that would add a few seats to their mobile restaurants for their customer’s comfort. 

The silver rectangular diner buildings that were frequently situated on street corners were once very common. The O’Mahony Diner Company in Elizabeth, New Jersey, manufactured many of them. The company produced 2,000 diners from 1917 to 1952. But only about twenty of their diner structures remain intact.

It’s easy to spot a diner. They typically have booths and a counter where they serve the comfort foods that we have all come to love with many selections for all tastes. Some are even open 24 hours offering guests a day or night meal experience whenever the mood hits.

New Jersey has more diners than any other state and it is called the “Diner Capital of the World.” But New York City has its share of destinations with specialties such as original breakfast omelets, all-day breakfasts, burgers, ethnic specialties, unique sandwiches, soups, salads, dinner platters, and so much more. Check out some of NYC’s favorites and their specialties.

Lexington Candy Shop at 1226 Lexington Avenue and 83rd Street serves luscious milk shakes in flavors that include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and coffee. Guests return regularly for delicious breakfasts.

Pearl Diner at 212 Pearl Street has been family owned and operated since 1962. A home for favorite comfort foods, they feature all-day breakfasts with scrumptious Blueberry Pancakes and French Toast. Lunch and dinner features craft burgers, triple-decker sandwiches, meatloaf and more.

Old John’s Diner at 148 W. 67th Street has customers that come back again and again for their savory Avocado Toast and Potato Latkes.

Waverly Diner at 385 Sixth Avenue tells us that breakfast is a favorite meal of customers and they get plenty of complements on their omelets, waffles and pancakes.

Westway Diner at 614 Ninth Avenue brings in customers for their cooked to order meals and one of their specialties, Corned Beef Hash is perfect with the diner’s egg dishes.

Junior’s Restaurant that originated in Brooklyn with vibrant locations in the Theatre District is renowned for their creamy, delicious cheesecake varieties. They also serve a menu of favorite foods with something for everyone.

Our readers will recall that diners have been featured as settings in television shows that have included Alice, The Sopranos, Happy Days and Seinfeld. They have also been prominent in movies such as Grease, Five Easy Pieces, Diner, and When Harry Met Sally. The diner craze is being kept alive with Food Network’s current hit show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives hosted by the celebrity chef, Guy Fieri who takes his viewers on road trips to discover classic spots. 

Now that you know-go and enjoy your next diner experience!

Top photo: Bigstock

About Marina P. Kennedy (70 Articles)
Marina Kennedy began her writing career when her four children were grown and she returned to college to study in the humanities. She is delighted to be a contributor for Woman Around Town. The majority of her articles focus on the culinary scene, theatre, and travel. Marina and her husband Chuck enjoy the rich cultural experiences of the New York metro area and beyond. She hopes that readers like reading her articles as much as she enjoys writing them.