Dean’s Diner, a western PA landmark is for sale

I have been a little lazy over the long weekend and have not posted anything. This is some news I got from various sources including Brian Butko and my Google News Alerts (on diners). It was reported the other day that Dean’s Diner of Blairsville, PA, a western Pennsylvania landmark was being put on the market. Apparently run by a 3rd generation now, who have attempted to run it while living and working at other jobs in other states have decided that the diner needs the attention and devotion to tradition from new ownership. Here is a link to the Pittsburg Post-Gazzette article. 

The image below is from my postcard collection which shows this 1953 vintage Fodero diner located on Rte. 22 with a factory add-on diningroom on the left. This addition was grafted to the diner a few years after it was on-site. It was eventually replaced by an even bigger built-on-site diningroom later.


John Baeder in the news

My good pal John Baeder was in the news in the last couple of days. For those who haven’t clicked on the link to his website (in my blogroll) and are not familiar with him, John is the premier painter of diners. His artistry is almost unequalled. His style is based on the photorealist school but actually goes beyond. His paintings of diners and other subjects are representational showing the subject in context with its surroundings. The paintings start out from 35mm slides which are projected onto the canvas so he can pencil in a fine outline of the image. From this basis John’s mastery of painting comes to bear and the outcome looks very photographic but is pure painting. The details in his paintings such as shadows, and reflections in windows, to clouds in the sky and gravel on the ground are beyond compare. I have always considered him my mentor in the way I document a diner on film and I am proud to say John has done a few paintings from photos I have shot. You can actually see a couple of them on his website, Gallery #3 shows a Hot Dog truck on Long Island that I shot (Upper left, 1st painting in the gallery) and also in Gallery #5, the nighttime shot of the Olympia Diner (my very first attempt at time exposure). Here is my picture from 1981


 Here is the link to a Metro Spirit article that came out 2 days ago.

Remember HoJo’s?

Besides my obsession with diners, I have a soft spot for the former “Landmark for Hungry Americans”, Howard Johnson’s Restaurants. Currently there are only 3 restaurants operating under this name and one of them is only open in the summer.  There is one in Bangor, Maine and two in upstate New York, Lake Placid and Lake George (this one is seasonal). I have photographed a handful of these places over the years and even have some memorabilia.


I just got a new “old” post card into my collection. It is a great view of the Howard Johnson’s Restaurant once located in Williamstown, Mass. This is actually one I have passed too many times to mention. My buddy John Baeder did a wonderful oil painting of this a number of years ago. I recall for a time in the 1980’s it may actually have been operated as another restaurant briefly but came back to being a HoJo’s in the 1990’s. My wife Denise and I actually had a meal (or snack) there on the way back from upstate New York during this later period.

As in most cases this location eventually closed and was repurposed. It was transformed into a bank without sacrificing its colonial styling. In fact the postcard reveals what the original entance looked like prior to a later updating. Ironically, the people who did the transformation into the bank did their homework and imitated the original design of the entry, not at the entry but to either side of it. They created bow windows with railings on the top that are fairly close to what the entry use to look like.


Three great fan websites for HoJo’s are  and as well as

Cool YouTube video of Ice Cream stand turned diner in Ohio

Brian Butko passed along a cool link to some video of Kremeland, an Ice Cream stand turned 63-seat diner. This place is in Navarre, Ohio ( just south of the Lincoln Highway, not actually on it) where it goes through Masillon, Ohio.

This looks like it started out as a Tastee Freez stand from old photos on their website prior to the rebuilding. The new building itself is truly interesting. Here is their website

Prospect MT. Diner delivered yesterday

It finally showed up! After the usual delays in building and transporting of a multi-section diner, the new Prospect Mt. Diner arrived in Lake George, NY on Wednesday, December 12th. The diner built by Diner-Mite of Atlanta came in 3 sections and was placed on the waiting foundation by crane. This diner will initially seat 60 people and is slated to be open in 3 months. A large diningroom addition will be complete by May according to reports and this will seat an extra 100 patrons. The diner was supposed to be delivered on Tuesday but was delayed in Pennsylvania by inclement weather. Here is a link to the Glens Falls, NY Post Star that has a short video of the the installation….

Warren Jones passes away. The last person to operate the Apple Tree Diner

I just received word that one of my earliest “Diner Buddies” Warren Jones passed away. I spoke with his mother, Ona Jones this morning and she told me the sad news. I did not want to bother her with questions (where, when, etc.) and so I gave her my condolences and told her I would keep in touch. I called the town clerk’s office where they lived and found out Warren passed away on August 22, 2007. I knew he was battling cancer and that he was very sick so I guess it was not a total surprise. For those of you who do not know, Warren was the last person to operate the Apple Tree Diner, (a 1929 vintage Worcester diner with a monitor roof) at it’s only address, Washington Street (Rte. 1A) in Dedham, Mass. He ran the diner from around 1977 through July of 1981 when the property the diner was on was sold to a developer. He moved the diner to Foxboro where he hoped to set up an expanded version of the restaurant in a shopping center parking lot. That deal unfortunately fell through and the diner ended up in at least 2 other storage sites and sold to one other person until Dave Waller bought the diner in 1988 for his private collection.
I had many a good time hanging with Warren and his family prior to his move to North Carolina in the late 1980’s. I have had sporadic contact with him over the years since but there was one constant, his mother and I have been exchanging Christmas cards forever (it seems) so there was always some contact. I only wish I knew sooner so I could have paid my respects to the family. Warren Jones was 57 years old.
Goodbye old friend, we will miss you!

6 years since owner of Main Street Diner passed away

I just wanted to acknowledge that yesterday was the 6th anniversary of when my buddy Owen Abdalian passed away. At the time of his untimely death at 46 years of age, he was the owner of the Main Street Diner in Woburn, Mass. Owen and his wife Ranu had been running the diner (Worcester Lunch Car # 834) for about 21 years and he was actually about to make a big life change. He had just passed his test for obtaining a teaching certificate and was going to put the diner up for sale. His plans were to teach culinary arts at a local vocational school and I’m sure with his personality, he would have been a fantastic teacher! I cannot believe it has been 6 years already.

New diner gets 1st approval in Fairfield


The DeCoven Diner formerly of Duncannon, PA above, hopefully will soon reopen as Zemo’s Diner in Fairfield, CT

Here is the text from an article written by Andrew Brophy for the Connecticut Post about Gary Zemola’s new diner project. This appeared on today…

FAIRFIELD — Gary Zemola’s dream of opening a diner is on a front burner. Zemola, 42, owner of Super Duper Weenie on lower Black Rock Turnpike, won approval last week from the first of two town zoning boards he needs to open “Zemo’s Diner” on Duka Avenue.

The portable diner, which Zemola bought on eBay, was manufactured by the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Co. in Elizabeth, N.J., in 1954 and as recently as 2003 operated as the DeCoven Diner in Duncannon, Pa. The diner is now in storage in Monroe, where Zemola has nearly completed restoration.

Last week, the Zoning Board of Appeals approved Zemola’s request to open the diner behind Fairfield Lighting and Design with four fewer parking spaces than town zoning regulations require.

The plan still needs approval from the Town Plan and Zoning Commission.

Robert Brennan Jr., the ZBA chairman, said Zemola has to get a lease that would allow customers to use at least four parking spaces in the lot outside Fairfield Lighting and Design.

Brennan said no other business can use that parking lot and a sign on Black Rock Oyster Bar can no longer direct that eatery’s patrons to the lighting store’s parking lot.

John Fallon, Zemola’s lawyer, said all of those conditions are acceptable to Zemola.

The 59-seat Zemo’s Diner would be installed on adjacent properties at 63 and 75 Duka Ave. that are owned by Frank Zemola, Gary’s father. Frank Zemola also owns property where Fairfield Lighting and Design is located.

Houses on the Duka Avenue properties would be torn down to make way for the diner.
Zemola plans to continue operating Super Duper Weenie if his diner is able to open.

The Diner, a U.S. Route 40 mainstay in Indiana set to close

I just read an article from the website by Bruce C. Smith stating that a 1950’s Mountain View Diner known simply as THE DINER is set to close at the end of this week. Originally called the Oasis Diner, it was part of a motel/diner complex located in Plainfield directly on Rte. 40. It was run for the last 20 years by Ray Piercy, who sites his age and health plus competition from nearby chain restaurants the main reasons for putting both the diner and motel up for sale. Here is an old postcard from my collection depicting both the Rte. 40 Motel and Oasis Diner.

Oasis, Rte. 40

Here is an interior shot with many thanks to Brian Butko….

Interior of THE DINER