Former Grubb’s Diner looking for new owner & new home

Jerry Grubb is willing to give away the former Grubb’s Diner to
anyone who moves the landmark and reopens it.
(Altoona Mirror photo by Cori Bolger)

In my travels in the early 1980’s, I had gotten out to central Pennsylvania (as far as the Pennsylvania Railroad’s famous Horseshoe Curve) in Altoona. Check out the Horseshoe Curve at…. On the way we stopped to eat at Jerry’s Diner, a 1950’s stainless steel Fodero Diner on Route 22. Years later when I read Brian Butko’s Diners of Pennsylvania book, I found out that Jerry’s Diner (at that point known as the Ridge Diner) had originally been known as Grubb’s Diner. It was replaced in 1964 by a brand-new Grubb’s Diner, (a Swingle Diner) which unfortunately I missed in my earlier travels out that way.

The newer diner closed within the last couple of years when the property it was on was redeveloped by the Rite-Aid Pharmacy chain. Formerly located on Route 22 in Huntingdon, PA, the diner itself was moved down the road into a storage location because the long-time owner (Jerry Grubb) did not want to see it destroyed. A story out of Altoona, PA (The Altoona Mirror) dated September 21, 2008 gives the details of how Jerry Grubb would like to see his former diner live on.

Wanted: Owner for free ‘you haul’ diner

By Cori Bolger,

HUNTINGDON – Jerry Grubb cares so deeply about the future of his former diner that he is offering to give away the ’50s-style restaurant for free. Grubb only has one stipulation: The new owner must transport the landmark to a new location and reopen it for business. ”These types of diners are really making a comeback, and I’m surprised no one locally wants it,” Grubb said. ”It’s an excellent piece, and you can’t get them much cheaper.”

The locals called it the end of an era when Grubb’s Diner, a 24-hour Huntingdon institution, shut its doors for good last year to make way for a new Rite-Aid pharmacy at South Fourth Street and Route 22. Grubb, the diner’s manager and cook for 52 years, decided it was time to hang up his spatula, but he didn’t have the heart to demolish the timepiece. Instead, he dismantled it and paid a moving company to haul the silver 68-foot-long diner a mile up the road to the Huntingdon Motor Inn.

It now sits on two flat-bed trailers perched over Route 22, frozen in time and empty, except for the original retro light fixtures, booths and bar. A menu on the wall offers dinners for $1.15 and lobster tail for $2.50. Smithfield Township supervisors have voiced concerns that the diner – or pieces of it – might blow down onto the highway, but Grubb doesn’t seem concerned. Together, the pieces weigh 49 tons and won’t budge, he said. Grubb has used tarps to secure parts of the structure just to be safe.

At a meeting last week, Grubb told supervisors he hopes to find a new home for the diner before winter sets in. So far, he’s had several offers, but no takers. He donated the iconic Grubb’s Diner sign and pieces of kitchen equipment to the National Military History Center in Auburn, Ind. A group of Boy Scouts recently restored the sign, which was designed by Grubb’s son, Darin Grubb. ”We’re going to put it up in our car gallery and park ’50s cars underneath it,” said Josh Conrad, the center’s collections manager. The museum staff was also interested in featuring the diner in its exhibit, but decided the cost of shipping would be too expensive.

A group of Juniata College alumni told Grubb they would like to open it up on campus, but Grubb never heard back from them. Grubb, a Huntingdon resident, purchased the diner in 1964 from the Swingle Diner Co. in Middlesex, N.J. It was recently appraised for $100,000, but Grubb is willing to negotiate a lower price or donate it to the right person. In an ideal world, someone with an appreciation for the diner would re-open it in Huntingdon Borough and bring back the days of the 15-cent pie slice, said Barb Blair, a long-time Grubb family employee. ”People came here from all over,” she said. ”Jerry’s mother would make the pies and people flocked here because they were that good.”

To contact Jerry Grubb, call the Huntingdon Motor Inn at 814-643-1133.

Here is another link to an article with more photos