To say the American Diner is making a comeback you would have to assume that it had gone away in the first place. Well that is not really the case as diners have been around for well over one hundred years and never really went anywhere. The problem is that they just got overshadowed over the last thirty to forty years by shopping malls and modern technology.
The 50’s and 60’s were very different times regarding the habits of young people but one thing that all kids from all generations have in common is that they all had their places where they went to “hang out” and meet up with their friends. The shopping malls of today have become the place for kids to meet, have a cheeseburger, see a movie and, of course, cruise around and see who you would run into.
In the 50’s and the 60’s the place to meet friends and see if you could run into that girl you wanted to ask out was the diner. You could order up the cheeseburger, soda and ice cream and, while you couldn’t watch a movie, you could put a coin into the jukebox and listen to your favorite tunes and even have a dance. Today the kids send messages and listen to music on their mobile phones, but in the glory days of the diners the kids could swap notes between the tables. The pen and paper was the communication devise of the day and was all you needed when you were too bashful to go in person to the other table and ask the pretty girl if she wanted to meet you at the counter for an ice cream.
The first diner is said to have been built in the late 1850’s by Walter Scott in Providence, Rhode Island. Scott used a horse drawn covered wagon to supplement his income selling sandwiches and coffee to the night workers working at a local newspaper. The business became so lucrative that Scott eventually quit his normal job and, while he didn’t realize it at the time, gave birth to what has become the Classic American Diner. Others got the idea as well and soon thereafter a new business model was created of offering warm meals and drinks to night workers when the restaurants had long closed for the night.
The diners that came after were built in the form of wagons and also transformed from the discarded dining cars from trains. These diners were fitted with lots of stainless steel and mirrors and a counter where customers could belly-up to and have their coffee and apple pie. They thus became the primary meeting point, apart from the local church, for all the locals to see each other and share the gossip and the newspaper and have a meal based on the some of the most original American dishes, such as pancakes, bacon and eggs, hamburgers, French fries and, of course, the milkshake.
Diners have always been a very important aspect of twentieth century American culture and they likely reached their peak in the 50’s and 60’s, when young people frequented them daily to meet their friends and take their dates. But in a time when we appreciate the nostalgia of yesteryear, we have realized that we need to maintain what was good in the past and combine it with the shopping malls and modern technology of today.
Look it up. Their surely is an app for finding a diner near you.