Steel Trolley Diner, circa 1985
Conversation with Jacki Hersman of
Lisbon, Ohio’s Steel Trolley Diner
Last night I got a call from Helen & Billy of the Rosebud Diner (Somerville, Mass.). Apparently they had some people come in to see the diner. It turned out to be Jacki Hersman (and her son) who happened to take a couple of days off and took a short “Diner Tour” in the Boston area. Hersman owns the Steel Trolley Diner of Lisbon, Ohio. It is located on U.S. Route 30 (the Lincoln Highway). Billy put Jacki on the phone and we spoke for a good half hour. I have never met Jacki but I told her I had visited the diner she owns back in 1985. This was when it was owned by Shirley Davis. Davis sold the diner, a 1954 Jerry O’Mahony to Hersman back in 1992.
Jacki told me of her frustration in finding that most of the diners she was visiting here closed after lunch. The Rosebud being one of the local exceptions does serve dinner. She told me she was going up to Salem, Mass. today to see some sights and also check out the Salem Diner. I mentioned that while she was in the area, she should also get to the Capitol Diner in Lynn. She would not be disappointed.
New effort to help save the Cheyenne Diner
and keep it in the New York Metro area
I just got a press release from Michael Perlman of New York City who is spearheading the effort to save the Cheyenne Diner which closed last weekend. The owner of the property wants to develope the site for housing. Perlman was the founder of a group of preservationists who helped save the Moondance Diner which ultimately was bought and moved to Wyoming. His goal is to find someone closer to home to buy the Cheyenne and reopen it. Here is the press release ….
Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner
For Immediate Release
Michael Perlman, Founder & Preservationist
Committee To Save The Moondance Diner Founder
Kyle Supley, Preservationist
HISTORIC CHEYENNE DINER FOR SALE AT $7,900:
Effort to Spare “Endangered Species” from Oblivion!
NEW YORK, NY (Apr 9, 2008) – Citywide Patrons, preservationists, & community groups are disheartened that the architecturally & culturally significant Cheyenne Diner (411 9th Ave at 33rd St) has officially closed its doors on Sun, Apr 6th. A 9-story condo is slated to rise on premise, marking the end of the diner’s 68-year run, but a movement is underway which may grant the Cheyenne a new lease on life. The asking price is $7,900 and the buyer is responsible for rigging and lot acquisition costs. Preservationist Michael Perlman of Queens, who founded the Committee To Save The Moondance Diner in spring 2007, along with fellow Preservationist Kyle Supley of Brooklyn, are now campaigning to spare the Cheyenne Diner from oblivion, after sparing the Moondance last summer. Michael Perlman of the Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner further discussed the proposal with property owner George Papas (owner of nearby Skylight Diner, 402 W 34th St, & developer for Cheyenne property) on Sun, Apr 6th, and effectively convinced him to work together. It will be a win-win scenario for all parties when Papas sells the Cheyenne Diner, and it is relocated. Perlman has already received notification from potential buyers from Indiana & Ohio. While the Cheyenne can potentially land a good home out of state, many patrons are praying that a NY-based buyer will contact the Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org, so it can ideally remain closer to its roots than the Moondance Diner in WY. All information will be relayed to George Papas.
The Cheyenne Diner is a highlight in terms of its diverse patronage including celebs i.e. Jerry Lewis & David Letterman, & since it’s the last streamlined railway car-inspired diner in Mid-Manhattan, & a scarcity borough-wide. It was pre-assembled by Paramount in 1940, and known as the Market Diner through ’86 after the popular chain. It retains a majority of its original &/or distinctive elements. The streamlined façade features vertical and horizontal stainless steel securing bowed colorful enamel panels, wrap-around windows, a curved entryway with glass block, & a reverse channel illuminated neon sign. The interior features a streamlined barrel roof, counter & stools, & Indian tribal coins. The Cheyenne was recently granted 1st prize on NYC-Architecture.com’s “Top 10 NY Diners/Restaurants. Spiros Kasimis was the 18-year Cheyenne tenant.
Perlman explains: “Diners are amongst the ‘ultimate public institutions’ which harbor countless memories and bridge the generations. During the 30’s – 60’s eras, freestanding diners numerously dotted NYC’s 5 boroughs, and brought together individuals of various occupations in a cozy & striking ambiance. Today, they are becoming an endangered species at an alarming rate, and their loss is often most heartfelt. It is essential to preserve & reuse all remaining classic freestanding diners. Despite time constraints, we are committed to doing all we can for a noble cause. ” The Committee’s consensus is that “A steady market for such nostalgic gems, coupled by the fact that they were manufactured to move; can ensure a victory for the Cheyenne Diner.”
NYC Diner Preservation Record
– Sam Chinita housed in freestanding diner (8th Ave & 19th St), demolished 2000
– River Diner (11th Ave & 37th St), demolished Mar 2004
– Lunchbox Diner (357 West St), restored in 2002, but closed & remains abandoned
– Munson Diner (11th Ave & 49th St) transported to the Catskills in 2005
– Moondance Diner (80 6th Ave) transported to LaBarge, WY in Aug 2007 & reopens in June 2008
– Staten Island’s Victory Diner transported in Aug 2007 to SI’s Midland Beach Promenade & reopens in 2009
– Some icons holding onto their own: NYC’s Empire Diner (10th Ave & 22nd St), jet-age Market Diner (11th Ave & 43rd St) reopens this June, Air Line Diner/currently Jackson Hole (Astoria Blvd & 70th St), Square Diner (33 Leonard St
near Varick St & W Broadway).
Cheyenne Diner May 2007 day scenes, Courtesy of Preservationist Michael Perlman:
Cheyenne Diner night scenes & memorabilia, Courtesy of Jeremiah Moss of Jeremiah’s Vanishing NY (http://vanishingnewyork.blogspot.com/)
’83 Cheyenne as Market Diner, courtesy of roadside photographer Larry Cultrera of Society for Commercial Archeology & Diner Hotline (https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/about/):
Dec ’79 Cheyenne as Market Diner, serigraph courtesy of photorealist John Baeder (www.johnbaeder.com):