Posted by: dinerhotline | August 14, 2010

The Story of the The Abandoned Luncheonette, AKA the Rosedale Diner


Daryl Hall & John Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette,
1973 Atlantic Records Album Cover

Not long after I started the Diner Hotline Weblog, I mentioned that I would write about the “Diner in my Header” (the photo at the top of my blog), see…
http://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2007/11/07/diner-in-my-header/.
I know a lot of “Diner People” were familiar with a similar image that dates back to 1973 and was the inspiration for my 1982 photo. So now I am finally going to keep my promise to my faithful readers and tell the story in its complete form, with the help of my friend Matt Simmons!

Back in 1991, I was asked by Randy Garbin of Roadside Magazine (now RoadsideOnline) to contribute a “Diner Hunting” story for the fourth issue of his fledgling publication (Roadside, Summer, 1991). At first I thought, which of the hundreds of diners I had documented up to that point in time would make a compelling enough tale for Randy’s faithful readers? Then it came to me in a New York minute (OK, a Pennsylvania minute) that it had to be the story of how I found the “ABANDONED LUNCHEONETTE” !!! The next part is basically what I wrote for Roadside, with a few new tweaks……


My recreation of the photo from the album cover, 2/26/1982

For those of you readers not familiar with it, Abandoned Luncheonette is the title song of an LP record album by recording artists Daryl Hall & John Oates, released in 1973 on the Atlantic Records label. The album cover featured a photograph of an abandoned diner. This cover had always intrigued me whenever I came across it in music stores. I used to say to myself, “Wow…what a great idea for an album cover.” Every so often, I would even hear the song on the radio, but I never paid much attention to the lyrics.

It wasn’t until November 1980, the same weekend I had taken my first photograph of a diner in Harrisburg, PA, that I actually came closer to finding the Abandoned Luncheonette. I was driving through New York City and had the radio tuned to an FM station. Between tunes, the DJ mentioned how he liked diners, which definitely got my attention, and then he played the Abandoned Luncheonette song. For the first time, I really listened to the lyrics. I couldn’t believe it – what a great tune! The words spoke to me and stirred something within me. I had to have this record. Needless to say, I bought this album – the first of around 15 albums in my collection with images of diners featured on the covers.

A year later while I was again visiting Harrisburg, I was sitting in my friend Steve Repucci’s living room, looking at a map of Pennsylvania and trying to locate a small road in the Philadelphia area. You see, there is a clue to the Abandoned Luncheonette’s location on the inner sleeve that mentions “the man on Route 724.” I knew that Daryl Hall & John Oates both were raised in the Philly area and figured that the diner may be located near there. I couldn’t find Route 724 anywhere on the map. There were just too many small roads with~3 digit designations to see it. But wouldn’t you know, the next morning while driving home on Route 222 through Reading, PA at around 4:30 a.m., I came upon the junction of Route 724. I couldn’t believe it! I pulled over and checked out the map. The road went only a few miles to the west, but went 30 or so miles to the east, towards Philadelphia. I knew this had to be the right road and decided that on my next trip, I would go exploring.

On February 26, 1982, I returned to Pennsylvania with Steve’s brother Scott to help get Steve moved back to Boston. Since we had some time to kill on the trip down, we bypassed through Reading and headed down Route 724. We had traveled about 20 miles or so to the east into the outskirts of Pottstown (actually Kenilworth, PA) when there it was – the Abandoned Luncheonette – sitting about 25 feet off the side of the road. This was really exciting, almost like finding the Holy Grail. It was still recognizable and looked very similar to the album cover, albeit with nine years worth of over-grown foliage. Luckily, it was the middle of winter, and I was able to duplicate the album cover photo without the bushes and trees getting in the way.


Photo of me in front of the diner,  shot by Scott Repucci 2/26/1982


Scott Repucci inside the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982


Left – front view of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982

rosedale5
Interior shot of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982


Right –  front view of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982


Left – side view of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982


Another interior shot of the Abandoned Luncheonette, 2/26/1982

I have since found out the diner was formerly the Rosedale Diner, operated for years at the corner of High Street and Rosedale Drive in Pottstown. The diner was probably moved sometime in the early 1970′s to Route 724, but was never put back into service. It was certainly in sad shape when I found it and on a subsequent visit April 3, 1983, it was completely unrecognizable having had all of its stainless steel exterior stripped away. In fact, The Man on Rte. 724 himself (Bill Faulk) asked us to leave the premises.


Front view of diner completely stripped, 4/3/1983

Although it’s a shame this diner met with an untimely death, I feel lucky that I was able to find it with the slimmest of clues and document it prior to it becoming almost completely unrecognizable. Now if I could only get the original Rosedale Diner linen postcard into my collection!


Rosedale Diner postcard from my collection

Well, since I wrote that story in 1991, I was able to obtain a copy of the Rosedale Diner postcard for the collection (thanks Art Goody!). Also, within the last 5 years or so, I have become acquainted with some key people who were able to impart some more facts and info on the Abandoned Luncheonette. One of the facts I had wrong in the earlier story was when I guessed the time period the diner got moved to its final resting place. Not sometime in the early 1970’s as I surmised, but actually in 1965.

One of the people that I have managed to make contact with was Susan Norman of the Pottstown, PA area. She was able to give me some first-hand info on the diner and its history. Susan is good friends with Cindy Faulk Baker. In fact they have known each other most of their lives. Cindy is the daughter of Bill Faulk who was the owner and operator of the Rosedale Diner. In my correspondence with Susan, she was able to fill me in on some of the facts about the diner and also put me in touch with Cindy. In fact, Susan sent a nice little “care” package to me with some photos as well as an old menu cover from the Rosedale Diner, which I greatly appreciated!


Rosedale Diner menu cover courtesy of Susan Norman

Ironically, not too long after I started corresponding with Susan, Brian Butko put me in touch with Matt Simmons, around the time I started this blog in 2007. Matt was himself trying to find info on The Abandoned Luncheonette. Matt is from the Detroit, MI area and is a big fan of  Daryl Hall & John Oates’ early music. He was trying to piece together info on his favorite album cover from H&O and Brian knew that had been a passion of mine for a while. So thus began a trading of info back and forth between Matt and myself.

In the mean time, it was brought to my attention by Susan Norman that Bill Faulk passed away on November 6, 2007, (I wrote about it in the blog) and within the same week a drinking glass with the Rosedale Diner logo silk screened on it went up for auction on ebay. What a coincidence! I immediately bid on it and was determined to get it for the collection. I watched over the auction for the last hour or so of bidding and managed to squeak by in the last 2 minutes for the winning bid!


front of Rosedale Diner drinking glass w/logo


Back of Rosedale Diner drinking glass

Since then, I have continued to post all sorts of “Diner related” posts as well as other roadside topics in the almost 3 intervening years. In the back of my mind, the story of the Abandoned Luncheonette/Rosedale Diner was always lurking. Also, Matt Simmons was making inroads in gaining more info and insights while making friends with Cindy Baker and her sister, Marla LaBelle as well as their friend Susan Norman.

Recently, when I did a post on Abandoned Diners, I renewed my promise to finally do something with the story of the Rosedale. Matt contacted me at this point and said he was making another trip to Pennsylvania and after the trip, would document everything he’d learned and send it to me. Well, the middle of July came and with it an email from Matt with the promised story. I read it over and got back to him to let him know that it was a fantastic piece! I told him he was getting co-authorship of this post. (In fact, his text makes up most of it)! So here is Matt’s part of the post……

It was a summer day in 1973, and Bill Faulk was musing to his 26 year-old daughter, Cindy, about a peculiar recent event. Two young men, or “hippie boys”, as Bill described them, had walked into his restaurant, Toggs, with an unusual request.

“He said they told him that they wanted to enter some contest,” Cindy recalls.

According to Bill, the hippie boys informed him that if they won this contest, they would get to record an album of their music. A photo of the dormant diner across the street, which Bill also owned, would be perfect for the cover.

“I told them they could take a picture of it, but not to go inside,” Bill would tell a newspaper reporter, ten years later. “They went inside, anyway.”

After Bill called the local police, the hippie boys, along with their college-aged female photographer, abruptly scurried from the diner.

Fifty-two summers earlier, long before hippie boys and girls came to prominence, Talmadge William Faulk’s introduction to the world came in Prattville, Alabama. The simplicity of southern farm life was shaken at the age of seven, when his beloved mother, Annie Pearl, passed away. Formal education was forsaken shortly thereafter, stalling short of the fourth grade. Following a laborious youth and adolescence, the twenty-one year old known as “Toggs” to some and “Bill” to most, enlisted in the army at Fort McClellan. While serving in World War II, he earned promotions to the level of Sergeant and often fulfilled cooking duties for his fellow soldiers.

While on furlough in Atlantic City in the autumn of 1944, Bill became acquainted with Nancy Scheeler—a lovely twenty year-old from Pottstown, PA. Their relationship quickly blossomed, driven by a flurry of love letters penned by Bill. Having recently discovered and read the letters, Cindy declares, “My Dad was very, should I say—suave.”

A few months after meeting in Atlantic City, Bill and Nancy were married on Christmas Day of 1944.


Operating location of the Rosedale Diner, photo courtesy of Matt Simmons

Following the Allies’ victory, the newlyweds settled in Nancy’s hometown. Situated forty miles northwest of the Liberty Bell, the borough served as residence for roughly 22,000 others. In August of 1946, Nancy gave birth to Cindy. When Bill’s daughter was three and a half, he took a symbolic step toward fulfilling a longtime dream. Registering as a business owner with the State of Pennsylvania, Bill secured the name “Rosedale Diner” for his new venture. He opened his restaurant at the corner of East High and Rosedale streets. High Street, a.k.a. Route 422 at the time, was the bustling main drag in Pottstown. In addition to the cross-street namesake, the surrounding collection of homes was known as the “Rosedale neighborhood”—the most prestigious in the borough. Manufactured by Fodero Dining Car Company, Bill’s diner sparkled with a stainless steel exterior and red trim. A kaleidoscope of pink and burgundy tiles lined the interior floor and walls, and the forty-three seat restaurant featured a significant luxury: air-conditioning.


Fodero Dining Car Company builder’s tag courtesy of Pat Fodero

The Rosedale operated just a mile and a half down High Street from the Sunnybrook Ballroom, a popular dance hall in which jazz and big band musicians performed. Consequently, the likes of Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington sporadically inhabited the diner’s booths. But no famed swing-master of the time would ultimately wield as great of an impact on the diner’s fortunes as a young boy named Daryl. The youth from nearby Cedarville was often brought to the Rosedale by his parents, Walter and Betty Hohl. Betty was a local music teacher, whose son was among her pupils.


A proud Bill Faulk sitting at the counter at the Rosedale Diner
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman


unidentified customer & Bill Faulk sitting in a booth at the Rosedale Diner
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman


Bill with daughter Cindy inside the Rosedale Diner
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman


Great interior shot of the Rosedale Diner
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman

Open twenty-four hours, six days a week, operating the Rosedale required a complete family effort. Bill typically labored until at least 9:00 P.M., with Nancy joining him at 4:00 in the afternoon. Cindy spent many evenings of her youth at the diner, and at age twelve, she became part of the daily staff. She performed just about every task required at the Rosedale, until earning her high school diploma. During those six years of six-day work weeks, Cindy’s father never provided her with financial compensation for her efforts.

Of course, the Rosedale Diner did have paid staff, as well.

“Dad hired lots of pretty waitresses,” Cindy recalls.

Among them was Jean Harner, who Cindy believes was eighteen when she accepted a waitress position at the Rosedale. However, when asked if it’s possible, Cindy acknowledges that perhaps Jean actually was twenty when the diner was a baby. Jean would quickly become significant in Bill’s life, and remain so until the end of hers.


Aerial view of Rosedale Diner prior to obtaining an entryway vestibule
from Fodero Diners. (the diner came from the factory sans vestibule, I believe that Fodero designed it to have a vestibule but due to construction and set-up costs, Bill put-off having one initially. I suspect that after the diner was paid-off, Bill went back to Fodero and had one made) - LAC
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman


circa 1957 photo showing newly installed factory-built entryway vestibule
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman

From the Rosedale’s opening day, Bill merely leased the land on High Street. He declined opportunities to buy it more than once, balking at the asking price. In 1965, Nagle Motors, the company that held the parcel, found another party that didn’t flinch at the cost of procurement. A new franchise of a fledgling fast-food chain known as McDonald’s moved in. The Rosedale was relegated to being towed out.

As fate would have it, the dislodging of the diner was not the biggest Faulk family event of 1965. In July, three days after Bill’s forty-fourth birthday, he and Nancy welcomed their second daughter, Marla. One month shy of turning eighteen, Cindy was no longer an only child. The challenge of having a bigger family to support was compounded by the newfound uncertainty and upheaval in Bill’s professional life. The proliferation of McDonald’s had been no surprise to him. He had been telling a variety of people for years that fast food was the future of the restaurant business. With his diner now homeless, Bill decided the time to join the future was now.

He purchased land on each side of Route 724 on the southeastern outskirts of Pottstown.  Bill secured several rural acres on the north side, and enough space to open a new restaurant directly across the street on the south side. Bill claimed to have paid $6,000 to have the Rosedale towed from its bustling High Street locale and moved two miles to his new spread. He directed the diner be placed near the north edge of Route 724. And in that spot, the Rosedale sat. Empty, quiet, dark and dusty…  the Rosedale sat. Bill raised cattle on the surrounding acres, as the Rosedale sat. And sat.


Rte. 724 signs, photo courtesy Matt Simmons

Bill had his new fast food restaurant, Toggs, constructed directly across the street. Unlike the High Street location, Bill’s new eatery was isolated from the vibrancy of Pottstown life. It turned out that the most significant structure in its proximity was a private residence—Daryl Hohl’s grandmother’s house.

To enhance his pursuit of a music career by easing pronunciation, Daryl changed his surname to Hall. He met fellow southeast Pennsylvania native John Oates while they were each students at Temple University. Together, they signed with Atlantic records and released their first album in 1972. After “Whole Oats” faded with little radio play, meager sales and lukewarm reviews, the duo began writing songs for what would become the most critically acclaimed album they would ever release. One of the songs, composed by Daryl, was inspired by the diner that had transformed from a sparkling childhood memory to a dormant and downtrodden relic. So, at least one thing Daryl said on that summer day at Toggs in 1973 was true. Bill Faulk’s defunct diner would be perfect for his and John’s album cover.

On November 3rd, 1973, Daryl Hall and John Oates released their second album, entitled “Abandoned Luncheonette”. The front cover featured an exterior photo of the Rosedale, encompassed by the tall grass and shrubs of eight years of inactivity. The back cover featured a photo of the duo that was taken moments before the police arrived at the scene.

The inner album sleeve contained head shots of Hall and Oates against the stainless steel interior of a different diner, indicating that Bill’s call to the police had initially prevented the hippie boys from getting all the snapshots they wanted.

Among the acknowledgements read: “Luncheonettes courtesy of The Man on Rt. 724 and Imperial Shell Homes, Inc. (better known as ‘The Diner Graveyard’)”. Bill was sent a Hall & Oates t-shirt and what was promised to be the first copy of the album off the presses. Daryl and John inscribed the back cover, right over the picture that had been taken against Bill’s wishes.

“’Mr. Man’, your cooperation was wonderful and we love you and your family. – Daryl Hall, John Oates”.


Signed back cover of Abandoned Luncheonette album
photo courtesy of Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle & Susan Norman

Despite widespread critical acclaim, the LP would not be a commercial success for Hall and Oates for several years. “She’s Gone”, from Side A, initially fizzled as a single, only to hit number #1 on the R & B chart when covered by Tavares. The first song on side B was the title track. Its lyrics painted a somewhat pitiful picture of an antiquated couple, sitting in an empty diner, clinging to the distant days in which their youthful energy had brought the building to life. To anyone who ever knew Bill, it would be obvious that the lyrics were about him. But the song’s other fallen hero was not his wife.

“I have no doubt that the woman in the song is Jean,” Cindy asserts.

After all, by the day Daryl, John, and their photographer walked into Toggs, Bill and Jean had long been a couple. For quite some time, the marriage between Bill and Nancy had merely existed on paper. The husband and wife had moved on, mutually.

After receiving the autographed copy of “Abandoned Luncheonette”, life went on in typical fashion. According to Marla, Bill listened to the album once, and then never again removed it from its sleeve. But in 1976, Bill started to notice something surprising and disturbing. The locks on his diner’s doors had been broken, and items were vanishing from within. Random strangers were stopping by, even in broad daylight, and attempting to go inside the Rosedale. Not coincidentally, Hall and Oates had recently scored their first top ten hit with “Sara Smile”. Atlantic records quickly reissued “She’s Gone”, and it went top ten as well, drawing significant attention to the album from which it had come three years prior.

At first, the corresponding deterioration of the Rosedale was gradual. Then came the 1980’s. Hall and Oates began the decade with separate multi-platinum-selling albums in three successive years. The local hippie boys, who had dropped by Toggs with a peculiar request nearly a decade earlier, were now arguably the second most popular musical act in the world behind Michael Jackson. People came from all over the world, in search of the special spot on Route 724 at Peterman Road. The Rosedale was ravaged.

By January of ’83, township officials had informed Bill that his dilapidated diner was now an eyesore that had to be eradicated. Bill saw little choice but to plan its demolition.  News of the impending doom spread quickly, from papers in Pottstown, Reading and Philadelphia, to the city of brotherly love’s NBC affiliate. Terry Ruggles came to the site on Route 724 with microphone in hand and cameraman in tow. Bill told a story about one man who had chained the door of the Rosedale to the bumper of his car, in an effort to drag away a unique souvenir. The bumper lost the tug of war. Bill listened unsympathetically, as the man lamented his fate.


Bill Faulk, Terry Ruggles and unidentified cameraman in a TV interview
circa 1983 photo courtesy of Susan Norman


Terry Ruggles interviewing Bill on camera
1983 photo courtesy of Susan Norman


Bill Faulk, Terry Ruggles, Cindy Baker & Jean Harner inside Pizza World
1983 photo courtesy of Susan Norman

News of the Rosedale’s numbered days also reached Hall and Oates themselves. Daryl decided that he wanted to rescue the endangered relic, and he prompted Randy Hoffman, a member of his and John’s management team, to negotiate with Bill.

“I’d love to sell it,” Bill told Michael Sangiacomo of the Pottstown Mercury.  “They might as well buy it.”

But they never did. Why the transaction never took place is not entirely clear. Hoffman, through a spokesperson, insisted that he “honestly could not remember”. Nor could John Oates, nor could Betty Hohl. Daryl Hall could not be reached for comment. Rumor has it that Bill demanded a ridiculous amount of money, and Daryl emphatically declined.

“I honestly couldn’t have seen Bill ever being willing to sell the diner, not unless someone offered him a million dollars,” mused longtime Faulk family friend, Sue Norman. Although Bill expressed in print that he would like to sell the Rosedale, Cindy highly doubts that her father meant it.

“My Dad never wanted to sell anything. Once he owned something, it was his.”

Toggs had not survived the 70’s on a rural roadside, and Bill had used his fleeting moment on the TV news to try to promote his newly remodeled restaurant across from the fading Rosedale, known as Pizza World. On March 25th, 1983, Jean was busy at the new establishment when she noticed a large bus pull up next to the Rosedale. Nine men emerged and began to pose for a picture in front of the diner. Jean charged across the street. She angrily insisted that the group leave immediately. One of the men approached her in an effort to calm her down. Jean listened as he said something along the lines of, “Wait, it’s us. You know, the guys who immortalized the place.”

Jean had not recognized him. It was John Oates. Daryl Hall was standing right behind him. The duo were on their way to perform in Philadelphia. Although no longer hippies, the boys had returned. To see the Rosedale one last time.

“That’s when she really flew off the handle,” said John.

Jean wove her central message of “I ougtha sue your asses!” with a tapestry of profanities.

“We laughed and headed on down to Philly,” John recalls.

Shortly thereafter, the Rosedale was gone. Bill received neither compensation nor consolation. Any scrap value merely made a dent in the back taxes he now owed on the massive parcel of land. Once upon a time, Bill had invested years of savings and sweat in a sparkling diner in order to become a successful businessman and provider. That sparkling diner had now been reduced to dirty, scattered debris on land he would soon no longer own.

“Dad had talked about moving back to Alabama and reopening the diner there,” Marla once offered.

“He talked about going back to his watering hole in Alabama,” Cindy said.  She then added that it never seemed a legitimate possibility.

Pizza World suffered the same fate as Toggs, only faster. At age 70, as Bill was gearing up to re-open it for his last hurrah in the restaurant business, he suffered a stroke.  Bill survived, but retired reluctantly.

Two years later, on yet another summer day, Bill was driving on Route 724 with Jean alongside him. They were having a routine conversation—until Jean didn’t answer. She died moments later, from a massive heart attack.

“I think Jean was the love of my Dad’s life,” Cindy once opined.

Bill soldiered on, and three years later, he was elated by the arrival of Marla’s son, Nash.

Bill had long regretted that he had not forged a closer relationship with his first grandson, Shawn, who had arrived slightly more than three years prior to that fateful day the hippie boys dropped by Toggs. Bill’s path to grandfatherly redemption seemed to have fallen off the map when Cindy had moved to North Carolina in 1977. But with the arrival of Nash, “Pop Pop” enthusiastically devoted his time to atoning for past mistakes and making the most of his second chance.

Proving Cindy’s declaration that he could never willingly relinquish ownership, Bill still stopped by a long-dormant Pizza World, into the early years of the new millenium. One day, while tidying up the parking lot, Bill noticed a man across the street, who was obviously struggling to find a particular spot. Bill approached him, and pleasantly asked him if he was looking for the diner.

“I used to own it,” Bill said proudly, launching into a story.

With help from family and friends, Bill continued to live by himself at his longtime home in Pottstown. By the age of eighty-six, his physical state required the constant care of a nursing home. Eleven days after checking in, and thirty four years and three days after “Abandoned Luncheontte” was released, Talmadge W. Faulk passed away on November 6th, 2007. Nancy joined him two months later, each of them leaving behind two daughters, two grandsons, and one—as John Oates described—immortal diner.

It is logical to assume that had Hall and Oates never approached Bill with their peculiar request, the Rosedale would have stood intact until his death. At the very least, the world was deprived of a rather unique estate sale. Instead, the diner crumbled under the weight of a record album cover. An album, that ironically (t-shirt notwithstanding), is the only tangible thing Talmadge W. Faulk ever received for his trouble.

Yet, with more than one million copies of Abandoned Luncheonette sold, along with countless pairs of eyes who have merely seen the cover, Bill’s Rosedale is indisputably one of the most famous diners in history. And that distinction has value—even though the diner owner himself was mystified by the worldwide appeal of two local hippie boys.

Pennsylvania Route 724 spans thirty miles, and passes through more than a dozen municipalities. Only one person in this world will ever be THE man on this considerable stretch of asphalt. And that man was Talmadge W. Faulk. Today, forty-five years after closing forever, Faulk’s diner still has significance, even to people who never once set foot in it. People like me.

On June 12th, 2010, I traveled six hundred miles from my home for what has become an annual visit with recently made, but dearly held friends. Marla’s husband, Mike, stepped several feet into thick woods, rummaging around the large infertile rectangle emblazoned by the Rosedale. While Marla, Nash, and I spotted several tiles from the floor and walls on the outskirts of the woods, Mike emerged with something I had never come across in my previous visits to the site. He extended it to me.  It was a plate, nearly 50% intact. “Would you like this?”  Mike asked.

I wanted to smile, but my jaw had dropped. I hope that somehow, somewhere, The Man on Route 724 was smiling for me.


Partial dinner plate from Rosedale Diner found in the underbrush
photo courtesy of Matt Simmons


Sketch of the Abandoned Luncheonette done by Scott Moyer


Former site on Rte 724 of the Abandoned Luncheonette today.
photo courtesy of Matt Simmons


Bill Faulk’s Pizza World today, another Abandoned restaurant!
photo courtesy of Matt Simmons


L-R, Susan Norman, Cindy Baker, Matt Simmons & Marla LaBelle
2010 photo courtesy of Matt Simmons

Acknowledgments:

I want to thank Matt Simmons for the great job he did writing the major portion of this piece. He did what I would have liked to accomplish myself. But due to time & travel constraints as well as a myriad of other reasons on my end, I was unable to do. I also want to thank Cindy, Marla & Susan for their part in telling this story. Without their assistance, none of this would have come to fruition. Finally, thanks to Daryl Hall & John Oates for inspiring me with that long-ago album cover that intrigued me so much through the 1970′s! - Larry Cultrera

The content of this story was greatly enhanced with information contributed by:

Cindy Baker, Marla LaBelle, Sue Norman, Betty Hohl, John Oates, Tim Hufnagle, Michael SanGiacomo, Nick Tosches and WCAU TV in Philadelphia.

They each have my sincere gratitude.

As does Daryl Hall, for writing the song that has led me on this remarkable journey.

…A journey that may have stalled in my corner of the world, were it not for Larry Cultrera.  Larry, thank you for sharing your Diner Hotline Weblog so that I may share my favorite story.” –  Matt Simmons


Responses

  1. Amazing, Larry. What a great story and some fascinating pictures. I really have to sit down and read this.

  2. Great article!! Thanks!

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Doug Just Doug, Wendyvee. Wendyvee said: Hall & Oates, abandoned diners, and a memorable album cover http://tinyurl.com/2ah46a9 [...]

  4. Larry, this is an amazing story and a magnificent post. Glad that Hall and Oates had the guts to shoot their album cover pics there –it definitely ensured the diner’s place in history! Amazing the place was as intact as it was when you took your own photos ten years later.

  5. This article was brilliant.Larry, you’re a national treasure.

    • Thanks Peter, but I cannot take the entire credit as Matt Simmons wrote the timeline of the Rosedale Diner and was invaluable to how the completed post came out.

  6. Actually, Peter is right, Larry, you are a National Treasure. It was an absolute honor to work with you, my friend. So gracious of you to share the spotlight with me for this post. Last but not least, I am so happy and humbled that a fair amount of people seem to be enjoying it.

  7. Bad News Jiggers in RI is closed!!! One of my favorites. Lets hope they get the problems staightend out and reopen…. Apprently it may be for sale? See article link below.

    http://www.wpri.com/dpp/news/local_news/west_bay/east-greenwich-money-matters-shut-down-jiggers-diner

  8. Larry, this is one of the best diner stories ever told. A real page turner. I couldn’t stop reading on. A real shame. I note Randy Garbin has linked this story to a story posted on Roadsideonline 9/14/10 discussing the fate of 6 diners that will also likely meet the same fate as the Rosedale — those being the Vale-Rio, Bel-Aire, Branchburg, Jimmy Evans Flyer, Eddie’s and Travelers diners. Keep up the excellent work.

  9. Thank you Matt & Larry!
    You gave my Dad a voice. He was much more than “the Man on 724″. He was a Daddy , a Pop pop & a friend to many people. The one thing that wasn’t mentioned in this story, because I forgot to tell Matt, was that he had a best friend who could have told him more than anyone, if he was still alive, his name was Bobby Miller. They were the best of friends & had been through all the good times & crappy times together. My Dad missed him so much. I think he passed away in 1997. I just want to express my gratitude to everyone interested in the Rosedale & wanted to hear my Dad’s story. And to Matt for telling it. I can’t believe my Dad was a “celebrity” of sorts! I was blown away when I got a sympathy card sent to the funeral home from Matt on behalf of Hall & Oats fans! Matt is too humble to say that the card is how we all met.

    I had no idea that there are “diner fans” let alone Rosedale Diner fans!! I never thought too much about it. I’ve told a few friends about the diner/album, but not many. I didn’t think it was a big deal..I’m a WHO fan! (No disrespect to John & Darryl) They rock! ( I met them when I was 8 when they came to talk to my Dad one time, about the diner)
    I am so touched & blown away by the out pouring of love for my Dad & the Diner. Thank you Matt!! We will always be friends.:) Thank you Larry. Matt, you know me well enough to know that this story made me cry! (In a good way.) Dad would have LOVED THIS!! and he’d have talked your ears off too. I wish you could have met him & he could have met you.
    Much love to all who love the Rosedale.
    Peace, Marla (Faulk) LaBelle.

    • Marla, it was my pleasure as a “Diner fan” and a fan of the Rosedale Diner to be able to give your dad a voice! Matt did a wonderful job with the timeline which made this post probably the most memorable one I will ever have had the pleasure to post! When your dad asked Steve Repucci and myself to leave the property those many years ago I wanted to talk with him more, but he was not in the mood at that point. I at least got to meet him that one time.

      • Larry,
        I didn’t know that you were one of the many people who he asked to leave the property. Sorry about that. He was pissed off that people had torn it apart. Sometimes he could be an ass. But in his final years, he mellowed quite a bit. That’s when I know he’d have enjoied talking to you guys. He was very proud of the Rosedale as well as everything else he had accomplished throughout his lifetime. He, like myself didn’t realize that the diner meant something to Hall & Oates fans. He just thought of it as vandalism. I wish I had known that the Diner had a “following” before he passed. Then I could have explained to him why people did what they did. If I ever knew where the outhouse was from the cover of Who’s Next? I’d get me a piece of that for sure! So I totally get it.
        By the way,that picture of Dad & a woman sitting in the diner says it’s my Mom, Nancy. That’s not her. It’s not Jean either. I’ve never seen that woman before. It doesn’t susprise me though, for some reason, back in the day he was popular with the ladies! I got to work with Dad in 1986-87 at Diamond Glass in Royersford. (It closed in like 1989.) But that’s when I got to know “Bill”. I am blessed for that. He was so funny,cool & laid back at work. Not what I was used to at home….not at ALL. He would tell people alot of bullshit…he was private when people got nosey, asking questions that was nobody’s business, he would say whatever…usually not the truth!
        I learned a lot about him from him during that time. I ended up getting laid off, then I got another job. But the time I got to spend there, working with him was priceless.
        Thanks so much for caring. It means more than I can say. I’m
        glad you requested me as a friend :)
        God bless you.
        Marla

  10. Larry,

    I thought you and some other diner enthusiasts might find this noteworthy: Sue Norman’s husband, Curtis, offered to drill a hole in some Rosedale floor tiles so I could make keychains out of them. I had been unsuccessful in trying to drill a hole in one I had–Curtis thought his more advanced equipment would do the trick. Well, after four hours, three dulled specialty carbide made-for-ceramic tile drill bits, and two cracked tiles, he manged to get holes in two tiles while leaving them intact. He described the tiles as “hard as Thor’s hammer” and said they were probably made to endure 100 years of foot traffic.

    I find it amazing how well vintage diners were made, and it is clear why those manufactured more than a half century ago can still hold up so well. I have no doubt that the Rosedale could have done just fine for ages sitting on the side of Route 724, had it not become famous. The consolation, of course, is that even though the Rosedale had an untimely demise, its alter ego, the Abandoned Luncheonette, will live forever. And it sounds like those leftover floor tiles may last forever, as well.

  11. Wow, fantastic story!

  12. Larry and Matt, This story is GREAT! You guys did the old man and the old diner by the road justice. while reading i felt like i was watching a movie. just want to thank you guys for what you do. keep up the good work. roger

    • Thanks for the compliment on this post Roger! I’m sure Matt appreciates it as well!

      • I appreciate it immensely, Roger. Being a longtime fan of the Abandoned Luncheonette album, and being fortunate enough to befriend Bill Faulk’s family, hearing that people are enjoying his story is extremely gratifying.

  13. I came across this blog post when trying to find info out (mainly about Pizza World). This definitely took me down a rabbit hole and what a fun one it is! I grew up in Pottstown (Kenilworth) area. I’ve driven past that ol’ place and wondered why it never was inhabited in my lifetime. Now, I see why. Thanks for sharing your wealth of info. I’ve passed it on to my parents who were the true H&O fans.

    • Hi Carrie, I am glad you enjoyed the post on the Abandoned Luncheonette!

      • I grew up there! And the diner is part of my memorys! I knew the stories behind the diner! To me and others I grew up wth the diner was just part of our lives! Driving by it so many times, most days not even looking over!But, still knowing it was there! Just part of our life! Ive been inside in thelate 80′s a few times! But, to me and others I knew it didnt hold the fascinating like the out of towners who took relics from it! To us it was more like a friends grave, you wouldnt vandilize, you have respect! Thanks for this great story! Its always nice to be reminded of home!

  14. [...] the entrance to Towpath Park is perhaps best known as the longtime resting place of the former Rosedale Diner of Pottstown. A photo of the diner was featured on the cover of Daryl Hall & John Oates’ 1973 [...]

  15. What a fantastic story. Thanks for sharing. Please see the link for a local Toronto “Rosedale Diner” It seems to have gotten inspiration from your featured diner! I think they have since changed the facade but if you go to the site and wait for the images to cycle, you can see, it looks/looked very similar. Again, thanks. Just a great story!

    http://www.rosedalediner.com/

  16. What a story! I’ve lived around the corner from here all my life and never had ANY idea about any of this! It also explains why Pizza World has remained standing, abandoned, all these years. Thank you so much for writing this.

    • Thanks Steve, on behalf of both Matt and myself. Glad you enjoyed it!

  17. Loved the story guys.. ive been a hall & oates fan since the mid 80′s and always was allured and intrigued by the abandoned luncheonette album cover. Also reading a biography of theirs gave me the insight of where i could find the rosedale diner one day when i would visit america.

    I was a bit shattered after hearing the diner didnt exist anymore, but your story was a true find and in many ways made up for it.

    So much information i didnt know before about bill and the woman mentioned in the song that i didnt know were true characters of the whole story behind the song. ( bill the ex sargeant and jean being the 20 year old before the diner was a baby !! )

    Just brilliant !!!!!!!

    I may not have been to pottstown or kenilworth as yet, but your story and with the help of google maps i located the exact position of where the rosedale diner once laid. In pottstown originally and kenilworth later on.

    I could even say i felt that i was truely there..

    Thanks again, a true treasure indeed !!

    Ari

    Melbourne, Australia

    • Ari,

      Reading your comments, nearly a year after Larry allowed me to help him share this story, is just the sort of thing that has made my pursuit of the details so rewarding.

      I truly hope you make it to the site one day — it is still an inspiring place to go for those of us who hold a deep appreciation for the album. And thank you for making me realize how lucky I am to live a mere 600 mile drive from where the album cover photo was snapped.

      Matt Simmons

    • Ari,
      Now I’m REALLY blown away!! You are in Australia and have an interest in this now immortal diner that I took for granted my whole life! Like I said in my pervious comments, I SO wish that Daddy knew of all of you die-hard Hall Oates fans and your love of the diner. Obviously we knew about the fans, because they tore the diner apart! But I thought they were just H O’s fans. We didn’t know anyone in the world had any interest in “The Man”! In his “mellow years” (which was after the birth of his 2nd grandson…. my son,Nash) he would have talked Matt & Larry’s ears off till they blead! He was very proud of the diner for it being his dream, not because it was on an album cover. I know he’s looking down and grinnin’ ear to ear about this “blow-up” of intertest in the diner and my Dad himself. Ironically, it wouldn’t have gotten all this attention or this wonderfull story told if not for his passing. I have (radio) people interested in talking to ME-like I’m “somebody”! Also, (this is how much I didn’t think the diner was a big deal-) The first “tile” I ever got from the diner site was mailed to me by Matt from Michigan!! Since then, I’ve taken my son to the site, got some more and told Nash the story. He thinks it’s “cool”! Thanks again to everyone involved and much love to Larry and my Dear friend Matt & his family, they changed my life! Marla(Bill’s youngest daughter)

  18. I am certainly showing my age by sharing that I have many memories from the early fifties of the Rosedale Diner. My Father worked the second shift at Doehler’s so my Mom would walk me to the diner from our Queen Street apartment (one block behind it). Being a Hall and Oates fan myself, I was aware of some of this endearing story, but certainly not all of it. The story has brought back many more memories than I thought possible,,, recognizing the faces of Bill and Jean. I was only 6 when we moved a mile or so away so these are REALLY old memories!! Seeing the photographs of the inside and those star burst designed pieces of stainless steel stirred vivid recollections that came to life even more when the tile colors were mentioned. Thanks for the lovely walk down memory lane.
    By the way,, for the H&O fans,, Daryl was known to play his music after school at a downtown Pottstown Drug Store (High Street),, Ellis’ as I recall. Wouldn’t it be a lovely tribute to erect a permanent sign on the site of the “Abandoned Luncheonette” commemorating the story as a lasting tribute to Bill and Daryl and John? Barbara Johnson Tempe, Arizona

    • Barbara, thank you very much for commenting on this post. It is wonderful to hear from someone else who recalls the Rosedale with fond memories. That is a great suggestion about the permanent sign as a tribute!

  19. Barbara, I echo Larry’s sentiments. I am glad the story meant something to you, because the memories you shared certainly mean a great deal to me. Thank you.

    I am going to be fortunate enough to see Sue and Marla soon, so I will ask Sue about her memories of Ellis Drug Store.

  20. [...] Image and story of the luncheonette found here. [...]

  21. [...] researched thoroughly by fellow road writer Matt Simmons, which you can read here on another fab road website Larry Cultrera’s Diner Hotline Filed Under: Diners, Messages From Mod Betty Tagged With: PA, pottstown, Print, Rosedale [...]

  22. I am from Scotland and through the internet met a girl… Beth from Pennsylvania who used to pass the diner everyday on the way to school…we are both Hall and Oates fans, especially Beth. We visited the site in July 2010 but at the time we were fighting and didn’t get out of the car.. a shame really because I’m sure I would have found one fragment of something for a souvineer to take home to Scotland..! When I look at the lp now .. it’s a very surreal feeling.. having actually been there. Beth and I parted and it looks like I’ll never be back on Route 724 but feel privileged to have been there .. I love this story.. very interesting.
    David

    • David thanks for your Abandoned Luncheonette comment! Sorry things did not work out with Beth!

      • David, I am very glad to hear that you enjoyed the story. Conversely, it saddens me to think of how close you came to finding your own piece of the Abandoned Luncheonette and missing out on it. I commend you for your positive perspective.

  23. I am the “college-aged girl” who shot the photo of the diner and designed the album cover. I was delighted to read this article which was sent to me by a friend.

    • Barbara, I can’t express what an absolute thrill it is for me to learn that this story reached you. I tried to find you when I was doing my research, but was unsuccessful. I am so happy that you found us instead. I hope that the facts and inferences I was able to piece together were accurate. It was my goal to provide Larry and his readers with as detailed and as authentic presentation of the story as possible. Thank you for playing such an essential role in what is and always will be, far and away, my favorite album cover of all time.

  24. I want to thank Barbara Wilson D’Andrea for all the wonderful black and white photos of me and the band I was in…. Valentine! Peace, John Baptist MCGettigan
    PS: Valentine = Allen Rosenbium, Frank Stallone, John Oates, Jack Daley, Gary Goff and John Baptist MCGettigan

    • Very exciting to hear from you, as well, John. A friend of mine who helped me obtain some of the details for this story (Tim Hufnagle), has spoken highly of his correspondence with you on a number of occasions.

  25. What an awesome story. Abandoned Luncheonette is so reminiscent of diners in Brooklyn where I grew up. The look, the feel, the story. As a huge Hall and Oates Fan I so appreciate this♥

  26. This article has me in tears. Jean was my beloved Aunt and Bill her constant companion that my brother and I loved. I am too young to remember the diner in it’s hey day, but have been told many many stories. I do remember Pizza World and going there from time to time with Aunt Jean in her VW bug. :) Fast forward twenty years, my husband works for QVC and did a show with Hall and Oates. We talked about all the encounters they had concerning the album. I was able to get my album signed by them and have it hanging in my house. When I was a kid, we had a place at the beach. We had the dishes from the diner in our kitchen at that place. I guess Aunt Jean gave some of them to my parents. Thank you so much for all of the beautiful pictures. The old pictures were before my day, but I recognized Aunt Jean sitting at the counter in the diner and of coure Bill looking so young and handsome. My dad, Jean’s brother, has since passed away as well, but I showed them to my mom and she just loved them. Thank you again for this fantastic article. It made my heart happy. <3

    • Becky, thank you for the kind words about this post! I am glad it has brought you some happiness along with some great memories of your Aunt Jean and Bill. Matt and I worked very hard to put this story together along with help from Cindy, Marla and Susan.

      Thanks again!
      Larry Cultrera

  27. Had dinner with your cohort Scott and his wife, Linda, last night. he was filling me in on your adventure. I had forgotten that he was with you when you found it. (our wives work together and we were at their annual get together at the boss’s house)

  28. An aerial view from 1971 of the Rosedale and Pizza and Pizza World. You can zoom in and do comparisons.

    http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=2E-06&lat=40.2247439166041&lon=-75.6192319999998&year=1971

  29. Here’s the original location in 1957. Is that it on the left under the watermark?

    http://www.historicaerials.com/aerials.php?scale=4E-06&lat=40.2428068426646&lon=-75.6186540402638&year=1957

    • Don, thank you so much for pointing these out. I apologize for my delayed acknowledgement due to an especially busy Spring.

      At the time of the 1971 photo, I believe Pizza World was known as “Toggs”. That is a wonderful photo that indicates the remoteness of where the Rosedale was hauled after it was closed down.

      I am very confident that in the 1957 photo, the Rosedale Diner is between the two middle watermarks. High Street is the widest street in the photo, Rosedale Street ends (or starts — but does not cross) on the north side of High Street, right at the bend. St. Aloysius Cemetery is just west of Rosedale Street, and in this photo, it is under the upper left watermark. I firmly believe that the substantial parking lot, amount of cars, and light appearance of the roof indicate that the Rosedale Diner is pictured on the south side of High Street, in the aforementioned gap between the two watermarks. I also distinctly recall the owner’s daughter, Cindy, pointing out the somewhat isolated house directly across the street to me a couple years ago. She said she couldn’t help but notice the comings and goings over there while at work inside the diner.

      I hope this information is helpful, Don. Again, thank you so much for pointing out these awesome historic photos. I now have a couple more additions to my Christmas list!

      • Does anyone know how to contact Tim Hufnagle? Thanks!

      • Diane, I will try to get Tim’s contact info for you.

      • thanks!

  30. I wrote you before and I can’t remember what all I said? Anyway Hi to all the Pottstown cats here on the blog! I used to hang out on High st and remember the “Pottsown Bums”LOL! I remember a group that partied in a house on High that was like the movie Blue Velvet and just as paranoid! I lived in
    Colorado,AZ,and NM since 1974. I was visiting in 1980-81 and stopped by the diner taking photos and going inside for many of the photos when Bill came in and wanted to know what I was doing there and was going to call the cops! I said I saw no signs posted but they were not easy seen. Anyway, I told Bill that the diner was worth much more than salvage and that the Rock industry somewhere would buy it from him it being a Rock icon. Oh well….
    I used to work at the pilot plant environmental study for the nuke plant just up the road on Frickslock rd and we sampled just behind the diner in the Surekill river back in the early 70′s and when I saw the album it hit me right away knowing where it was. I have a copy of the album cover and it is more memories of my time on the river than it is of Hall and Oates! My sisters remember them more from OJ Roberts and the games between SpringFord!
    I remember the hot dog stand and we would get soft ice cream cones before hitting the river to work. I worked at Caribou Ranch in Colorado for 2 years back then and mentioned the diner to many groups that recorded there.
    Anyway, I noticed that it is a park now and behind the trees that where next to the diner is a nice area with the river right there. Or maybe not? I was there in 2002. Now I wish I had grabbed some plates and coffee cups ,LOL!
    So many people have stripped the blinds and allot more that a plate!
    Anyway, great site and blog! I have great memories of PA and mostly South Jersey as a kid and young person.
    Later Gators!
    Les

  31. This story was told very well. I grew up in Pottstown and knew this diner also before it became famous on the album cover. How cool to see all of these pictures of the area of my hometown. Yes Pizza World sits abandoned today along 724, and I just drove by there the other day and wondered what was going on with it. Great Story! Thanks, Cindy

  32. I just saw Hall & Oates in concert on September 10, 2012, and they played THREE tracks from Abandonned Luncheonette. It was great!

  33. [...] There was an abandoned luncheonette. It was in Kenilworth, Pennsylvania, but it started out in Pottstown where it was the Rosedale [...]

  34. [...] The Story of The Abandoned Luncheonette by Larry Cultrera on the Diner Hotline Weblog, Cultrera provides an excellent account of the [...]

  35. Great story John. I remember that area well and, it reminds me of when john “Baptist” McGettigan, two other band members and myself would go out to a late night early morning breakfast after a gig. So many memories, too many to mention and sadly history forever.

  36. This is a great story…I have become obsessed..maybe a little late to the conversation but if anyone is interested here are some pics from inside ‘”Pizza World” http://www.flickr.com/photos/dwmoran/tags/talmadgewfaulk/

  37. What a truly wonderful story.

    I was born and raised in Pottstown, where my father had an air conditioning contracting business. During the summers when I was in high school, I worked for him and was the “gopher” on service calls. Since some of the customers were in Phoenixville, I rode shotgun in the truck down Route 724 many, many times — and always noticed the vacated luncheonette on the side of the road. It was the only thing in this huge field, with lots of trees and brush.

    During my sophomore year in college at Lehigh (in Bethlehem, PA, about a hour away), one of my fraternity brothers — who was the go-to guy for what was up and coming in music — started playing Hall and Oates’ Abandoned Luncheonette album (their breakout album, as I’m sure you know).

    I remember picking up the album cover, staring at it for while, then saying to him, “I know this luncheonette…” He thought I was crazy. I said, “It’s on Route 724 between Pottstown and Phoenixville”, after which I turned to the back of the album sleeve and found the words, “Luncheonette courtesy of the man on Route 724.”

    Who would have thought back then that these two kids from suburban Philly would go on to become the Top Pop Duo of all time…

  38. […] (For a great story about the Abandoned Luncheonette cover checkout this blog post) […]

  39. I also was born and raised in Pottstown, still living on the outskirts near St. Peters Village. Before the building became Pizza World across the street from the diner location some friends of mine rented the building from the Faulks and ran a sandwich shop named JAMS, which stood for John, Alice, and Mom. They had the best cheese steak sandwich in the Pottstown area. My wife worked for them for a period of time and it was the favorite place of several softball teams that journeyed to Linfield to play in weekend tournaments. My wife’s sister was married to the son of the couple until he met an unfortunate death in a car accident in upstate New York. I personally never ate at the Rosedale Diner but I would see the shell sitting along Route 724 every time I went to work past that location.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences, Rich. I appreciate your insight very much!

  40. does anyone know who owns the property of the old abandoned pizza world? if so please contact me at 484 356 4138

    • I have been informed that the land was lost to the former owner in a “Sherrif’s Sale” which may be in the Public Record somewhere.

  41. Readers of this wonderful blog might find interesting the entries on my crowd-sourced Website, http://www.cyberplaque.com. It’s a place to record anything about any place, and it has everything from diners to the dollar store site where Abraham Lincoln gave a speech (the dollar store came later!).


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