Abandoned Luncheonettes

As I have stated recently, some of my favorite photos have been of “Closed” and/or “Abandoned” Diners! I have found quite a few over the years and I would like to share with my readers some of these. In fact I am contemplating possibly having a calendar made with some of these photos in the future.

The Abandoned Luncheonette, aka the Rosedale Diner
Kennilworth, PA

Of course the inspiration for all “Abandoned” Diner photos for me was the Cover photo of Daryl Hall & John Oates 1973 LP record album entitled Abandoned Luncheonette! The photo was of the former Rosedale Diner that operated in Pottstown,PA from around 1950 until the mid 1960’s. Here is  the shot from their album, which was recorded for Atlantic Records…

Here is my shot which everyone will recognize from my header at the top of my blog page. I shot this in 1982, around 9 years after the album came out.

Right after I started this blog I promised I would expand upon the story I originally wrote in 1991 for Randy Garbin’s Roadside Magazine on finding this diner. The piece was part of his “Diner Hunting” section he ran back in the early days of Roadside. I am still planning the update with a lot more background info on the diner including vintage photos from back when it operated. Hopefully I’ll find the time in the near future to do this story justice.

Murphy’s Diner – Haverhill, Mass.

One of the Abandoned diners I have previously mentioned in 2 posts was Murphy’s Diner, see last post and also this link to the earlier one…. https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/murphys-diner-lives-on/. This was one of my earliest “Abandoned” diners. A 1950 vintage Jerry O’Mahony diner.

The Rainbow Vet Diner – Hooksett, NH

This diner was moved from Manchester, NH into the woods just off the Rte. 28 Bypass in Hooksett, NH. This single-ended Sterling Streamliner was obviously there a while before I got to take this shot. There was almost nothing left of it. I photographed it on December 5, 1981. It lasted a few more years but was eventually demolished. 

Kingsley’s Diner – Mansfield, Mass.

This small Worcester Lunch Car was rotting away in someones back yard when I shot this in August of 1981. Probably long-gone by now.

“Closed” Diner – Webster, Mass.

This is another old Worcester Car that was demolished not long after I shot this photo. I believe the building behind it (kitchen?) still exists but there is another small building where the diner is that was operating as a barbershop. This was right near the Webster – Dudley town line. Barry Henley informed me this was possibly called Ben’s Diner when it operated.

Gateway Diner – Phillipsburg, NJ

On my way back from Harrisburg, PA in early 1981, I was travelling along Rte. 22. Right after you crossed the state line from Easton, PA to Phillipsburg, NJ, this was on the west side of the road. I took this shot from the median strip. This diner was one of the first transported to England (circa 1982). It remained in storage for years there but is now in the Netherlands after operating for a short time in Germany. See Roadside Online… http://www.roadsideonline.com/component/content/article/57-diner-finder-updates/6652-gateway-diner-moves-to-the-netherlands

Topper’s Diner – Dalton, PA

This diner actually operated somewhere nearby to this location before it was moved here. I do not know what happened, it was set-up on a foundation but the installation was never completed for whatever reasons. It was a good-sized diner that had a large kitchen (factory-built) as well as a large addition behind that section. I shot this July 16, 1984. A very late model O’Mahony diner.

Mac’s Diner – Boston, Mass.

Here is one wreck of a diner! My friend Becky Haletky said this old Worcester Lunch Car was actually in operation not long before I shot this in early 1981. Hard to believe! This was located on Columbus Avenue in the South End section of Boston, just off Massachusetts Avenue.

Midway Diner – Shrewsbury, Mass.

This was a “double-diner” made up of Worcester Lunch Car No. 636 on the left and Worcester Lunch Car No. 666 on the far right. No. 636 was originally Park’s Diner in Worcester and No. 666 was McDermott’s (Al Mac?) Warren Diner in Warren, RI first. I believe 666 had a fire and Worcester Lunch Car brought it back to the factory and fixed it back up to become a diningroom to 636 when it was moved from Worcester to Shrewsbury. These diners were separated within a couple of years of when I took this photo in 1981. 636 is currently in Vermont and 666 is in Andover, Mass. They are both in private hands and not operating.

(I’m not sure about this one) Diner? – Liverpool, PA

On a road trip down Rte. 11 (from Scranton to Harrisburg, PA) in March of 1990, we came across this little building. With its rounded corner posts and metal window frames, not to mention its oversized (almost cove style) overhang, I had to believe this was built by a diner manufacturer. Do not know anything about this other than it was filled with trash and other junk.

Monarch Diner – North Berwick, Maine

This was the former Monarch Diner that operated in Dover, NH. It was part of the chain run by the DeCola brothers based in Waltham, Mass. This diner was moved out of Dover to downtown North Berwick where it operated for a number of years under different owners (& different names) before being put into storage here, It currently is in another storage yard in Salisbury, Mass. (where the Miss Newport/Miss Mendon was being stored).

Depot Diner – Booth Bay, Maine

This little Worcester Lunch Car had originally operated in downtown Booth Bay prior to being moved to the Booth Bay Narrow Gauge Railroad site where it operated as a concession stand. In fact I knew of this diner’s existence by viewing an old slide that Dick Gutman had shot when it was still operating. Denise and I were spending a weekend in Booth Bay in 1992 when I tried to see if I could locate it. I realized the likely spot was the Narrow Gauge Railroad. When we went in we saw a small building that said it was the Depot Diner but it was built on-site. So I thought the diner was gone. We made it up to the back of the place where they had a large building housing a vintage car collection. I spoke with the older gentleman who was manning the info desk there and mentioned the old diner. He confirmed that the small building out front had replaced the diner. I asked if it was torn down and he said… oh no, they dragged it up into the woods adjacent to where we were and pointed in the direction of where it was. I ran back to my car and grabbed my camera and trekked into the woods to take some photos.

Glenwood Diner – Auburn, Mass.

This monitor-roofed Worcester Lunch Car was located at the Auburn – Worcester town line on Rte. 12. It was previously located on Rte. 20 in Shrewsbury. The Edgemere Diner took its place there. I photographed it on September 26, 1981 and by sometime in 1982, it was gone.

Abandoned Silk City diner – Berlin, NY

This was located in a field off Rte. 22 in Berlin, NY. I photographed it a couple of times, the first being on July 20, 1983. As far as I know, it was still there in 1992.

Miss Jersey City Diner – Jersey City, NJ

This was closed and vandalized across from a large public housing project in Jersey City, photo was taken November, 1984. It is a rare model Silk City diner. I know of only 2 others, the West Shore Diner in Lemoyne, PA and another diner that operated as Gordy’s Diner in Casselton, ND. (Gordy’s is currently in storage somewhere in Montana). I assume the Miss Jersey City has gone to “Diner Heaven”.

Kenny’s Diner – Haverhill, Mass.

This Worcester Lunch Car has been closed more than it has been open since the early 1980’s. I first photographed it in 1981. It has operated breifly as Alley Oop’s Diner in the mid-to-late 1980’s and as the Lindsay Rose Diner in the early 1990’s.

Bob’s Diner – Ashland, Mass.

Bob’s Diner had operated in  East Bridgewater, Mass. from 1933 (original name – Brady’s Diner) until 1978 when it was moved to this storage site in Ashland. It was rehabbed in the late 1980’s by Tim Hanna of Ken’s Steak House. He operated it for a couple of years as Timmy’s Diner. Currently in storage. Worcester Lunch Car No. 711.

Hodgins Diner – York Beach, Maine

This was one of the oldest Worcester Lunch Cars in existence according to Richard Gutman’s “Worcester Lunch Car Company” book. It basically rotted away. Luckily, Dave Waller salvaged some key pieces from this before it totally collapsed. In all my years going up to York, I never recall this open for business.

Ray’s Diner – Fitchburg, Mass.

This 1950’s vintage Fodero diner was sitting in a farmyard when I photographed it on August 4, 1994. It formerly operated at a site on River Street in Fitchburg. I was told it had become either a lounge or nightclub, (hence, the remnants of black paint on the stainless steel skin) before being moved here sometime in the 1960’s. There was little or no back wall or interior and it was being used to store lumber and various junk.

Steve’s Diner – Clinton, Mass.

This old Worcester Lunch Car  had the remnants of 2 signs on the roof. The one on the top layer said Steve’s Diner and the bottom layer said Turini’s Diner. I believe Lou Turini of Lou’s Diner (also of Clinton) had operated out of this diner before moving to the current one that has his name. This photo was also shot in 1981 and the diner was gone within a couple of years. A small park is now on this location.

Vree’s Sterling Diner – Saugus, MA

This was a modified Sterling Diner (non-streamlined) that was located on the Lynn Marsh Road (Rte. 107) near the Lynn / Saugus townline. It had larger windows installed sometime in the 1960’s and the end-roof overhangs were chopped off. The addition on the right had more counter seating as well as booth service. It had not been open for business since 1970 or so. This photo was shot within a year of its demolition (2004). If you look at the 3 windows on the extreme left, you can see that they are pretty well distorted due to walls bowing out causing the roof to collapse.

Reworked Hardcopy version of my Murphy’s Diner post

Murphy’s Diner in storage, June 1994, Peabody, Mass.

Regular readers of this blog should recall the post I wrote back in November about the former Murphy’s Diner of North Cambridge, Mass., a 1950 vintage Jerry O’Mahony built stainless steel diner, see…. https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/murphys-diner-lives-on/ .

That post was about how and when I found this diner and where it now is operating today. That post was eventually brought to the attention of Stephen G. Surette, the editor of a magazine entitled “Growing up in North Cambridge”.  Steve knew about the group of 1957 graduates of Matignon High School (that I mentioned in the earlier post) who are making a trip over to England this coming May to have a mini-reunion at the 50″s American Diner (which is the former Murphy’s Diner where they used to hang-out after school).

Steve contacted me within the last 2 months and asked me to write about Murphy’s so I reworked the post from the blog and sent it along with some photos. Steve ended up making the “copy” I sent to him into a “2-part” story. The first installment has now been published in Volume 11, Spring 2010 edition of the magazine. The second installment will be out in Volume 12, Summer/Fall 2010 in the next couple of months.

The reworked article is entitled Murphy’s Diner lives on (and how I found it) , It features one of my photos from when the diner was in storage in Peabody, Mass. and a photo from the Survey of Architectural History, Northwest Cambridge book put out by the Cambridge Historical Commission in the late 1970’s. Also, I provided a photo of the 1st incarnation of Murphy’s Diner, a 1939 Worcester semi-streamliner that was on the 2525 Mass. Avenue site prior to the O’Mahony.

This photo of the earlier diner  was shot by none other than my pal John Baeder at it’s 2nd location, when it was operating as the Victory Diner, 190 Hampshire St. near Inman Square in Cambridge. In fact it was more than likely the first photo of a diner John ever shot (circa 1967 or 1968), see below. I had a photocopy of this but remembered that Dick Gutman may have had the original (I was correct). He sent me a good scan which I passed along to Steve, who got permission from John to use it!

Victory Diner (the 1st incarnation of Murphy’s), with the black
porcelain panels painted over. Photo by John Baeder

Steve provided a photo that shows the 1st Murphy’s at the Mass. Ave. location (way in the background of the shot) from July 6, 1945. In fact he also provided a blow up of the same photo which shows the diner in better detail. He even included a photo he got from the Cambridge Historical Commission of the earlier version of the Victory Diner on Hampshire St. a “Brill” diner that the first “Murphy’s” took the place of in the early 50’s.

You can order a copy of the magazine at http://growingupinnorthcambridge.com/

Boston Globe does 10 Worcester(built) Diners

Looks almost like The Boston Globe did a take on Diner Hotline’s top 10 Diners of Massachusetts from last July (see https://dinerhotline.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/diner-hotlines-top-10-massachusetts-diners-part-1/) with their article in the New England travel section today entitled “Ten diners stamped Worcester”  http://www.boston.com/travel/explorene/massachusetts/articles/2010/

The difference being all the diners they chose were Worcester Lunch Car diners.

Ten diners stamped ‘Worcester’

by Patricia Harris and David Lyon

Rescued or refurbished, serving breaksfast or after the bars close, these lunch cars vintage 1907-57 still cook on all burners

The eight most comforting words in the American vernacular must be, “Can I warm that up for you, hon’?’’ Or so it seems when dawn is breaking, the grill is sizzling, and you’re hunched on a stool reading a newspaper over coffee.
Between 1907 and 1957, the Worcester Lunch Car and Carriage Manufacturing Co. built 651 diners. Only a fraction survive, but with their porcelain-enamel exteriors and real wood trim, they are as timeless as the reasonably priced comfort food on their menus. Here are 10 of them.


“I can’t believe how many people stand across the street and take pictures of this place,’’ says Mary Jane Simone, grill cook. “This diner has been sitting on this spot since 1948.’’ In fact, it was the showcase model for the Worcester Lunch factory across the street. Simone and owner Kim Kniskern brainstorm the inventive breakfast menu, which includes ethnic variations of eggs, home fries, and toast such as American (with steak tips), Polish (with kielbasa), and Polynesian (with fried Spam). Miss Woo regulars find the diner a comfortable groove. “I pretty much know what to throw on the grill when they come in the door,’’ says Simone. 300 Southbridge St., 508-753-5600. Breakfast $2-$7.95, sandwiches $2.25-$6.95, plates $6.95-$8.95. Cash only.


Thursday through Sunday nights after the bars close are the busiest times at this National Historic Landmark, says manager Lisa Carenzo. That and weekend mornings. Although it’s an all-night establishment (complete with glowing neon), the Boulevard rarely has the lonely feel of Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.’’ With just 14 stools and five vintage wooden booths, it’s always packed. Carenzo says the 1936 diner has been in her family since the 1960s; her grandfather had started as a dishwasher at age 12. Eggs, burgers, and tuna melts are on the menu, but regulars favor the lasagna, manicotti, and chicken parm sandwich. You can even get the meatballs, sausage, and sauce to go. 155 Shrewsbury St., 508-791-4535. Breakfast $4.65-$8.25, sandwiches $1.95-$6.95, plates $6.95-$11.25.


Owner Chris Giannetti can point out some rare vintage touches at his compact yellow-and-red diner, like the discreet brass and enamel plate that identifies it as #765 (which means it’s the 565th Worcester diner, since numbering began at 200). It was delivered to Fitchburg in 1940, and Giannetti has owned it for 16 years. He and his brother sanded and stained the oak panels to restore the interior wooden trim. Even his mother is involved. Giannetti handles the usual breakfast dishes, burgers, and sandwiches, but Mom makes the puddings, cobblers, and cakes. 6 Myrtle Ave., 978-343-9549. Breakfast $2.50-$6.75, sandwiches $2.25-$5.50.


In 2000, Jamie Floyd, formerly a waitress, traded her order pad for a grill cook’s spatula when she bought the Blue Moon (Worcester #815) and set about getting it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fifties memorabilia abounds and bygone stars make cameos on the menu. The Big Bopper breakfast, for example, includes eggs, toast, home fries, and a choice of homemade roast beef or corned beef hash. The Elvis burger is dressed with peanut butter and bananas. The wooden addition has the patina of age, but hardcore diner fans favor the 14 stools and five booths of the original dining car. Is it better to be an owner than a waitress? “The headaches are better,’’ Floyd says. 102 Main St., 978-632-4333, www.bluemoondinergardnerma.com. Breakfast $3.45-$7.25, sandwiches $3.95-$6.95, lunch plates


Aficionados might remember this 1950 diner as northern Vermont’s Miss Newport. Car mogul Kevin Meehan rescued it from “a boneyard’’ and restored it to vintage glory as an amenity to his Imperial auto dealerships along Route 16. With re-chromed stools and a new entry crafted to match the original dining car, the Miss Mendon opened in January with an unusually extensive comfort-food menu. It’s already doing a bustling business, which shows that there’s no keeping a good diner down. 16 Uxbridge Road, 508-634-3000, www.missmendondiner.com. Breakfast $1.95-$10.95, sandwiches $4.99-$8.99, plates $8.95-$17.99.


Proof that good things come in small packages, 10-stool Casey’s is so compact that the entry is through a sliding door and there are no booths. There is, however, a window on one end, and cook-waiter Eric Slaney says, “Even when it’s 5 degrees outside, people are lined up at the takeout window.’’ Chances are they’re ordering either the diner’s famed steamed hotdogs or its juicy burgers. One of the oldest Worcester diners in these parts, it was built in 1922 and purchased by the Casey family in 1925. They’ve been running it ever since. Over the years the exterior has been reclad in wood, but the interior gleams with the patina of 85 years of good grub. 36 South Ave., 508-655-3761. Sandwiches $2.25-$3.90. Cash only.


Martha Kazanjian was 7 when her family bought the Owl in 1982, “but I tell people I was born in a booth,’’ she says. Kazanjian seems to know most of her customers by their first names, from the families who pile into the booths on weekends, especially after church, to the police and politicos who stop by for coffee on weekday mornings. No one leaves hungry. Grill cook Wayne Kasilowski says that “construction workers come in for breakfast so they can skip lunch.’’ Daily specials like American chop suey on Monday or baked haddock on Friday rarely change. “We have to keep on a schedule,’’ says waitress Kerrie Peasle, Kazanjian’s cousin. “The regulars are used to it.’’ 244 Appleton St., 978-453-8321. Breakfast $1.75-$10.50, sandwiches $5.50-$7.50, plates $6.25-$7.50.


This 1952 stainless steel and enamel beauty serves comfort food with a twist. Only open for lunch and dinner, the diner is dedicated to Thai street food. Instead of burgers and fries or eggs and hash, the kitchen whips up generous plates of pad thai and tamarind duck. Rather than banana cream pie, dessert might be deep-fried bananas wrapped in egg roll skin or ginger or green tea ice cream. Lanna Thai is one of the rare diners that specifies the heat levels of its dishes and proudly announces, “We do not use MSG.’’ 901c Main St., 781-932-0394, www.lannathaidiner.com. Plates $7.95-$9.95.


There might be a long wait for one of the six booths on a weekend morning, but this spacious 1954 stainless-steel diner has 20 stools, so you can belly up to the bar and watch the grill cook work a little magic as the waitresses stream in and out of the kitchen. While you await your order, you can scan the four large flat-screen televisions tuned to various sports channels. Pop culture memorabilia highlights the ’80s, the decade that gave us the teen angst movie for which the diner is named and the original “Diner’’ with a pre-degenerate Mickey Rourke. 270 Western Ave., 617-783-1212. Breakfast $2.99-$8, sandwiches $5.29-$7.49, plates $6.49-$12.89.


Walking into the Rosebud during the day is like stepping through a time warp to an era when the waitresses called everyone “dear’’ and “hon’ ’’ and the daily specials came with a terrific soup. Ask Helen DeFrancisco what kind of soup it is and she’ll say “good, homemade soup.’’ Although the Davis Square institution is known for its evening bar and music scene, the streamline restaurant section lives up to its billing as “Somerville’s home cooking diner since 1941.’’ Helen’s Famous Bloody Mary offers something of a variation on the theme. “I make my own hot sauces in four different flavors,’’ DeFrancisco says. “It started as a joke, but my customers wanted me to make them hotter. It just took off.’’ In fact, you can get one of Helen’s specialties at 8 a.m. six days a week. “On Sunday we can’t serve until 11,’’ she explains. 381 Summer St., 617-666-6015, www.rosebuddiner.com. Breakfast $1.25-$8.95, sandwiches $6.50-$7.95, plates $10.95-$16.95.

Notes from the Hotline, 3/6/2010

Photos by Kristen Nyberg to be on Display March 18, 2010

I have known of Kristen Nyberg (and been a fan of hers) for around two and a half to three years (since I’ve been on Flickr). Kristen is a very talented photographer currently residing in Marblehead, Massachusetts. She is also co-creator with Jill Rose of the very popular North Shore Dish, a blog devoted to providing a Web resource for restaurant and food information north of Boston, see….  http://www.northshoredish.com/.

When I first started checking out Flickr, Kristen’s photos immediately caught my attention. First of all she was shooting a lot of “roadside” stuff (local to the Boston area), but with a great eye for detail! You can view her Flickr photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kristenlou/ to get an idea. Her subjects are not only limited to roadside and neon signs but include a whole range of subjects.

I asked Kristen in an email if the show was going to be a slide presentation and she replied… it’s a “gallery” type show, of mounted and framed photos. (Which also happen to be for sale, of course…) She went on to explain, while it’s not entirely diner themed (some arty farty shots, too) (love that term Kristen), there are lots of neon / diner shots that your readers might be interested in.

Kristen’s photo show Entitled…. Signs & Wonders will be on display one night only, Thursday, March 18th, 7 – 9 pm at Victoria Station Restaurant, located at Pickering Wharf in Salem, Mass. (victoriastationsalem.com)

Lebanon, NH’s White Owl Diner revisited

I recently heard from Josiah (Si) Lupton of Hartland, VT. I’ve known Si for over 20 years. He is an interesting person with many varied interests such as antiques, classic diners and classic cars. He sent me some photos of a small collection of memorabilia he has put together of the former White Owl Diner which operated in downtown Lebanon, NH. This was an April, 1932 vintage Worcester Lunch Car (#695).

I recall reading a little bit about this diner in Will Anderson’s book “Lost Diners and Roadside Restaurants of New England and New York” (page 125). In the caption under the photo he ran, Will says…. The White Owl was a fixture at 56-58 Hanover Street in Hough (pronounced “Huff”) Square for the better part of five decades. Opened as the Pollard Lunch in the 1920’s, it went through several ownership and name changes before becoming the White Owl with Charles C. White as proprietor, in the early 1930’s.

(As this diner is a 1932 vintage according to the Worcester Lunch Car Company workbooks and was named the White Owl at the factory, Will’s info overlooked the fact that there was an earlier diner on this site. Also, according to the Worcester workbooks the proprietor was Harry C. White – LAC).

Will went on to say… The White Owl it remained, surviving a major fire in downtown Lebanon in 1964, before being demolished to make way for a new bridge approach to Route 120 in 1970.

One of the photos that Si Lupton sent was a fantastic shot of the aforementioned 1964 fire in downtown Lebanon, check this out…

Si sent along an old city directory ad for the diner and it looks like it was being run by someone other than Mister White at this point…

Here are a couple of shots of a unique cup and saucer. You will notice the cup has 2 handles, I don’t know what that is all about. Maybe for a two-fisted coffee drinker?

Thanks to Si Lupton for sharing these images that helps us take a walk down memory lane!