A glimpse into my Diner Coffee Mug Collection

During a conversation at the recent get together in Worcester, Denise Bass and I were talking about our respective Coffee Mug collections. Being that I have been collecting for almost 30 years, my collection is fairly good size. In fact, there are even some that I have designed the logos for.

These shelves hold 29 mugs, among the examples here are 3 that I designed, on the top shelf left top corner is the Central Diner mug (Millbury, Mass.) and just underneath that one is the Tumble Inn Restaurant (Saugus, Mass.). On the next shelf down, middle, top is the Rosebud Diner (Somerville, Mass.). Another interesting one is the rare promo mug from the movie “Diner” on the bottom, second from the left.
On the top shelf of my desk are the Lunch Box Diner (Malden, Mass.) and the second version of the Central Diner with “Worcester Lunch Car #673” added. There are also some other mugs just behind them.

Here is a shot of this table I have. The section of marble counter top
came from Worcester Lunch Car # 805. The pie case came from the old Pullman Diner of Fitchburg, Mass. The pie case has various “Diner” models and memorabilia inside with coffee mugs on top and below.

Here are mugs from the Miss Bellows Falls Diner of Bellows Falls, VT
and Henry’s Diner of Burlington, VT. The Miss Bellows Falls mug was displayed on top of the hood at Buddy’s Diner in Somerville, Mass. for many years and was given to me by Buddy’s former owner John Barrett.

On top of a television set we Have a “blue” version of the Rosebud Diner mug along with one from Chubby’s Diner of Salisbury, Mass.

Here’s one from Kane’s Donuts sitting next to a Kane’s Donuts “clock”
and a “Big Boy” bank.

One from Victoria’s Diner of Boston, Mass. and Blanchard’s 101 Diner
of Worcester, Mass.

A new Dunkin Donuts mug with their original “Dunkie” logo along with one from the Springfield Royal Diner of Springfield, VT.

“Red” versions of the Tumble Inn Diner and Rosebud Diner.

Gibby’s Diner, Quaker Street, NY and Joe’s Diner of Lee, Mass.
Joe’s is famous for being the location for the Norman Rockwell painting “The Runaway”.

Here is an old Ho Jo’s coffee cup with a plastic Ho Jo’s bank.

Worcester, Mass. “get together” this past weekend

Ever since our initial get together at Tex Barry’s Coney Island Diner this past June 20th, Denise Bass, Paula Walsh, Kim Smith and I have been trying to repeat this happening all summer. Well we barely squeaked it out on the last official summer weekend when we all converged in Worcester at Blanchard’s 101 Diner this past Saturday.

In fact there were some added guests to this little diner trip, Gary Thomas (author of the Images of America book “Diners of the North Shore”) showed up along with Mike O’Connor (with his wife and a couple of friends) and special surprise (to me) guest Richard Gutman (who I actually was with the Saturday before).  Dick brought along his miniature dachshund “Fenway” who was a hit with everyone!

Blanchard’s 101 Diner (with Fenway looking on)
(Photo courtesy of Denise J.R. Bass)

We all were there around 10:00 am and the diner was really humming with activity! Gary and the Mike O’Connor contingent were already ensconced in a booth by the entrance. The rest of us ended up at the left front corner booth and last 2 stools on that end of the counter. The food was great as usual and we probably did not leave until after 11:00.

Looks like I was making some point during a conversation with
Dick Gutman (just out of the shot). My wife Denise is to the right.
(Photo courtesy of Denise J.R. Bass)

L-R, Kim Smith, Paula Walsh, Dick Gutman, Denise Bass &
Larry Cultrera
(photo shot by Denise Cultrera, courtesy Denise J.R. Bass)

We were all invited over to Mike O’Connor’s place in North Worcester to see his collection of restored classic cars and auto memorabilia. But more importantly to see one special piece in his collection….
Worcester Lunch Car # 705.

This diner last operated in Rye, NH as Tony’s Diner had been donated by Henry Cibrowski in the mid-1980’s to the Worcester Heritage Historical Society and was used variously as a  Tourist Information booth, Concession stand and changing room for a community theater.

After a short period of disuse, it ended up being burned in a fire caused by vandals. The city was at a loss on what to do with the derelict diner when in stepped O’Connor who said he would take it off the city’s hands and attempt a restoration.

He enlisted Gary Thomas  a furniture restorer by trade who has done an outstanding job of replacing all the burned woodwork and backbar cabinetry in the diner.

Mike O’Connor’s garage with classic cars
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

Tony’s Diner U.S. Rte. 1, Rye, NH – early 1980’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

Tony’s Diner U.S. Rte. 1, Rye, NH – early 1980’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

Tony’s Diner U.S. Rte. 1, Rye, NH – early 1980’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

former Tony’s Diner behind Worcester City Hall – late 1980’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

former Tony’s Diner partially restored at Mike O’Connor’s
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

partially restored interior of former Tony’s Diner
(photo by Larry Cultrera)

Larry Cultrera taking a group photo inside the former Tony’s Diner
(photo courtesy of Denise J.R. Bass)

L-R, Paula Walsh, Dick Gutman (with Fenway), Denise Cultrera,
Denise Bass, Gary Thomas and Kim Smith

Hot Dog on the grill!

The weather was perfect that day and we all had a great time. A great way to end the summer!

Cheyenne Diner move rescheduled for this week


I posted in my “Notes from the Hotline, 9-5-09”  (go to this link)…
https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/notes-from-the-hotline-9-5-09/ that New York City’s Cheyenne Diner was finally going to be moved around Labor Day but apparently those plans got moved to this week. I received an email with an attached press release from Michael Perlman who spearheaded the preservation effort to save this diner from destruction. The following is the text of this press release…..

For Immediate Release For NY Media Relations:

Michael Perlman, Chairman & Preservationist
Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner
(917) 446-7775 (On scene: Calling Preferred)


For AL Media Relations:
Patti Miller
(205) 587-5068

Historic Cheyenne Diner to
Begin Long-Awaited Transport
to Alabama on Sept. 14, 2009 and Will Undergo Future Restoration


NEW YORK, NY (Sept 13, 2009) – NYC’s historic Cheyenne Diner (411 9th Ave & 33rd St) will be granted a new lease on life, and begin its long-awaited move to Alabama on the evening of Monday, Sept 14, 2009 (Call Perlman for time info).

Since the Cheyenne’s dimensions are 15 ft x 96 ft (2,000 sq ft), the diner will be transported via flatbed in 2 sections to Alabama, with the expertise of Rigger Mel Brandt of M&M Rigging of PA, who has transported 50 diners countrywide (including a role in NY’s historic Moondance Diner to LaBarge, WY in Aug 2007).

Over the last few weeks, the concrete surrounding the diner was broken & the diner was cut in half. Devoted patrons, Committee members, and passersby will now have a rare opportunity to witness “history in the making” as hydraulic jacks will be installed underneath the Cheyenne Diner’s 2 sections, rolled forward to the curb on i-beams, and hoisted up onto a flatbed (First section will move on evening of Sept 14th and second section to be announced on Sept 15th or 16th).

On Jan 13, 2009, Committee To Save The Cheyenne Diner, Chairman Michael Perlman, 26 of Forest Hills, NY brokered the deal between Joel Owens of Birmingham, AL and property owner George Papas, after convincing Papas to be receptive based upon the diner’s historic reign. The diner was slated for demolition within the next few weeks, if a buyer willing to transport the diner wasn’t located.

Perlman received alternate proposals from potential buyers from Upstate NY, PA, MI, TX, & UT, but it boiled down to first-come, first-serve, and Joel Owens, head of NAIC, an investment group, became the fortunate candidate. On Jan 25, 2009, the iconic Cheyenne Diner neon signs were carefully removed by Paul Signs Inc of Brooklyn, NY. The acquisition of city permits contributed to the 8-month wait since the deal was brokered.

Perlman states: “It is bittersweet that one of the last historic freestanding diners in Manhattan won’t remain close to its roots, but I take pride in knowing that the beloved Cheyenne Diner will not only retire down south for its golden years, but undergo a rebirth thanks to its dedicated owners who think outside of the box, and patrons can reminisce & make new memories in an Art Deco gem. The Committee will be on site to converse with patrons, document the move, & wave adieu to its Manhattan chapter.”

 Joel Owens has announced plans to restore the Cheyenne to its 1940s glory with potential additions including a recreated Jay Dee Bakery (98-92 Queens Blvd, Forest Hills, NY), a Cheyenne Diner museum, classic car museum, rebuilt historic theaters, & a special events center. Owens states “This is a dream come true, especially in a state that has no historic freestanding diners. We ultimately plan on creating a small town with a historic feel, so future generations can have a chance to experience mid-century nostalgia, which is being lost.” Alabama Tourism Director, Lee Sentell, states “This has the potential to be a great Alabama destination.”

2009 Labor Day Weekend Diner updates

Miss Newport Diner set to become Miss Mendon Diner

Miss Newport Diner in Newport, VT
photo by Larry Cultrera, circa Aug. 8, 1983

Within the last couple of weeks I saw something on the Diner News and History blog Twitter Update page http://twitter.com/DinerNewsStaff about the Miss Newport Diner formerly of Newport, VT. This is an almost pristine 1950 vintage, bright red Worcester Lunch Car (Number 823), that had been delivered to its only operating location in Newport, May 16, 1950. It was operated by a handful of people since then into the new century. In 2003 it was purchased by Dave Pritchard of Salisbury, Mass. who moved it to his truck storage yard behind Chubby’s Diner, where it remained until about a year and a half ago.

Miss Newport stored with the Englewood Diner in Salisbury, Mass.

Pritchard sold it to Kevin Meehan, the owner of Imperial Cars, a huge multi-brand Massachusetts auto dealership located as their TV commercials state… on Route 16 in the little town of Mendon! The diner was moved there shortly after and I had not heard much about it since then.

Diner News and History blog had a link to Bill Gladwin’s Flickr page that had a current photo and also a link to his website at….. http://anystandard.net/features/missmendon.html.  The website included an architect’s rendering of the diner. Once I saw this I made plans to take a ride this past Saturday.

The auto dealership is huge and the diner is just one component. It is not located at streetside but is set back in line with the other main buildings of the complex. There is another building being constructed closer to the street that looks like it will house some other retail businesses.  I recently spoke with Kevin Meehan about the diner and I am totally impressed with not only his efforts with bringing this diner back to working condition, but also with his whole business complex!

Miss Mendon Diner, left-side front

Miss Mendon Diner, right-side front

The major changes to the diner are the addition of a standing-seam roof covering replacing the old asphalt shingles (Kevin says this is rubber, it really looks like metal) and the porcelain panels that said “Newport” have been replaced with new painted panels (they look like porcelain) that now say “Mendon”. The red main background color field on the new panels are not quite a match to the older faded panels but overall look really good.

As one of my photos show there is a great pole-mounted neon sign that says “The Imperial Miss Mendon Diner” with an arrow (very nice). Kevin says it is an old 1950’s vintage sign he got on Ebay. The same retired sign painter who painted the new panels also repainted this sign. See below……

New pole mounted neon sign w/arrow

Although the exterior of the attached building with entryway is fairly complete, it looks like it is at least 2 to 3 months away from opening as the interior of this building has yet to be completed. We will be keeping an eye on this one. Kevin Meehan says he will keep me informed as to when the diner will be open for business and of course I will post it here on Diner Hotline!

Finally new photos of Casey’s Diner

Last month when I did the “Top Massachusetts Diners” 3-part post, I included Cassey’s Diner in Natick. I realized even though I have been shooting digital cameras for about 10 years now, I did not have any digital shots of Casey’s. I ended up using one of my earliest photos from circa 1980 for the post. So when Denise and I made the little Saturday morning trip out to Mendon along Route 16, on the way back I detoured down Route 27 to Natick and took some great new shots of Casey’s before taking Route 135 back to Route 16 in Wellesley.

Casey’s Diner, left side front

Casey’s Diner, right side front

Interior of Casey’s Diner

One original window with etched design

Update on Owl Diner

Back around Thanksgiving 2008, I posted about the project I collaborated on with Richard Gutman. Dick was designing a  new larger entryway for the Four Sisters Owl Diner and needed my help with providing vector drawings for the graphics on the new exterior panels to the porcelain enamel company that was manufacturing the panels.

The porcelain panels and battens were delivered a few months ago and owner Tom Shanahan along with his contractor started installing the pieces. When the vertical battens were mounted on the diner covering the seams between panels, the stripes were off by an eighth of an inch from lining up with the panels for some reason. I was a little disappointed to say the least!

My old friend Rich Beaubien emailed me a week ago and left a link to his Flickr page on a shot he took of the Owl Diner the day before. In his shot the diner looked  a little better than the last time I was there. The exterior is about 99% complete and here are 2 photos from yesterday.



On close examination, the contractor has actually painted over the vertical battens, repositioning the yellow stripe to match the panels. Most of the stainless steel trim is installed and the interior is closer to completion as well. The way it looks now makes me feel better about the stripes not aligning!

Notes from the Hotline, 9-5-09

Utah’s Road Island Diner now on
National Register of Historic Places

Photo Copyright 2008 by Kenny Gregrich – Tooele, Utah

About a year ago I posted about the opening of The Road Island Diner in Oakley, Utah after a very extensive (not to mention expensive) top-to-bottom restoration of the 1939 vintage Jerry O’Mahony built diner that formerly operated as Tommy’s Deluxe Diner in Middletown, RI. You can see that post here… https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/the-road-island-diner-opens-in-utah/

 Well like Randy Garbin (Roadside Online) and Glenn Wells (Roadside Fans Yahoo Group), I too received an email from Keith Walker, the owner of The Road Island Diner who announced that through the efforts of the Utah State Historical Society and the National Park Service, the diner is now the latest to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here is the text of Keith’s message…..

Dear Larry,
The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service is pleased to announce the listing of the Summit County’s Road Island Diner (O’Mahony Dining Car # 1107) to the National Register of Historic Places. Its listing and historic significance can be viewed at the NPS link… http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/listings/20090904.htm.

and at the Utah State Historical Society link…

FYI, it is Utah’s only standalone restaurant on its historical list. 

Thanks for your support on a great 1st year, Keith Walker

We send Keith our congratulations on a well desrved honor for him and his efforts to help preserve this wonderful piece of Americana!

Cheyenne Diner moving to Alabama from NYC
this coming week

The Market Diner seen here in a 1983 photo, became the
Cheyenne Diner a few years later.

Regular readers of this blog may recall Michael Perlman of NYC mounted an effort last year to save the Cheyenne Diner from being destroyed for redevelopment of the prime real estate it was situated on. In fact I posted two or three times on this subject as it was first announced that Perlman had located a buyer who wanted to relocate the diner to Brooklyn.

Those plans fell through due to logistics and the alert went up again that the diner was not out of danger. Within a short time it was announced that another buyer from Burlingham, Alabama had stepped forward, but since that time I have not heard of any progress until now.

I saw a piece online from AL.com that the first of two sections of the diner will start the trek from Manhatten to Birmingham this coming week. Here is the text from that article….

What’s up with that? Cheyenne Diner to start its trek from NYC to Birmingham

Posted By Anne Ruisi – The Birmingham News, September 2, 2009

After months of red tape in New York City, crews will start to move the classic Manhattan eatery Cheyenne Diner to Birmingham next week.  

The diner will make the roughly 987-mile trip in two pieces, with the first half set to start its trek by flatbed truck Tuesday night, said Patti Miller, the diner’s media relations director.

The move will start at night because the city wants the street closed when the first part of the 96-foot diner is lifted off its longtime perch on Ninth Avenue between 34th and 35th streets in the Chelsea neighborhood, Miller said.

She didn’t know how long it will take to get here — “they’ve got to get permits for each state they go through” — or when the second piece will follow.

Birmingham businessman Joel Owens bought the diner and plans to restore it to its 1940s vintage glory. That work will be done here, but a permanent site hasn’t been chosen. The eastern metro area is preferred, Miller has said.

There will be two booths with info on the Cheyenne at Pinson’s Butterbean Festival on Saturday, Miller said.