Goodbye to the Rosebud Diner

Well as reported in the past few months, the Rosebud Diner of Davis Square in Somerville, Mass. has finally closed under the ownership of the Nichols family after a long run. The Nichols’ actually purchased the diner from its original owner back in 1957 and almost immediately they converted it to use as a Cocktail Lounge/Bar. The backbar was removed along with all the cooking equipment and the original ventilation hood when it became the cocktail lounge. It was operated this way right up until around 1989 when the family sold it. During the time period from 1989-1994 it was operated by at least 2 different entities, one of which was a Tex-Mex place called the Cuckoo’s Nest. At that point a couple of more changes were made to the already altered interior. The original stainless steel covered refrigerator was removed and the left end of the counter was chopped off. When the place closed circa 1994, the new owners defaulted on the mortgage that was held by the Nichols family. The Nichols’ ended up getting the diner back thru land court at this point. The diner had gotten a slightly bad reputation and the Nichols’ decided that it was time to bring the building back as a true diner.

Bill and Nicky Nichols on Grand Reopening day, February, 1995 at the
Rosebud Diner –  photo by Larry Cultrera

So the family spent a few months cleaning up the interior by refinishing the original woodwork getting some used wooden booths that were not too different than what had been there originally as well as installing a new left end of the counter. They also refurbished the neon sign on the roof. The menu from 1995 to now had been slightly upscale but the diner was now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The back room which had operated as another space variously as an upscale Italian Restaurant, Night Club and eventually a venue for live music acts and bar & grill since 1995. About a year and a half ago rumors started flying that the diner was for sale. The first rumors never panned out but more recently the word got out that a guy named Marty Bloom was in the running to buy the place. Bloom had started the successful chain of upscale restaurants called Vinny Testa’s (later known as Vinny T’s) and eventually sold the chain and started other venues. Bloom’s reported plans for the diner have not sounded like he wants to retain the interior character unfortunately. He does say the exterior will remain the same and as I believe, the fact that the diner is listed in the National Register of Historic Places will not protect it from being altered. So I guess the future of this classic diner remains to be seen.

Back in March, Glenn Wells and Mike Engle decided they wanted to make a trip out from the Albany area to check out the Rosebud one last time. They were joined by myself, David Hebb, Gary Thomas and Bob Marville on March 3, 2013 and we all had breakfast. We kibitzed with Billy Nichols and Helen DeFransisco and shot some photos, etc.

Left to right, Larry Cultrera, Glenn Wells (in back), David Hebb, Mike Engle, Gary Thomas and Bob Marville at the Rosebud Diner. March 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I have been friends with Billy Nichols for around 30 years. Along with my friendship, I have actually designed the logo for their coffee mugs as well as a breakfast menu and 2 post cards for the diner. I actually had one last meal about 3 weeks ago on a Friday night and the diner closed after the day of business on Sunday May 26, 2013. I got an email this past Saturday morning from Dick Gutman who had placed a link for  a Craigslist ad  to a yard sale at the diner. They were selling off various and sundry things like dish ware, pots and pans, etc. Denise and I stopped by for one last visit.

Bill and Nicky Nichols on Saturday June 1, 2013 at the Rosebud Diner
 photo by Larry Cultrera

 Rosebud Diner during yard sale, June 1, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I’ll be keeping in touch with Billy Nichols and wish him well along with Helen DeFransisco, his dad Gally and brother Nicky. I hope the diner does not get trashed too bad, but I guess that will remain to be seen.


Notes from the Hotline, 3-21-2012

Another Diner bites the dust!!!!

The Diner house located at 93 Oxford Ave. in Dudley, Mass.
1985 photo by Larry Cultrera

This month has been horrendous with the closing of the Fish Tale Diner of Salisbury, Mass. and the demolition of the Bel-Aire Diner of Peabody, Mass. Well now we hear that yet another Bay State diner has met with a bulldozer! My friend Barry Henley, the proprietor of “My Brother’s Place” Restaurant in Webster, Mass. reports that the infamous (at least to me) “Diner house” has been demolished. Located at 93 Oxford Avenue in the town of Dudley, this diner has not operated as a food service establishment for approximately 40 years.

I have shown the above photo as part of a diner slide presentation for over 20 years. It is in the “repurposed diners” section of the show. I always introduced it as my ultimate fantasy, a diner as part of someone’s house! I personally have been aware of this place since the early 1970’s when my older brother Steve lived in Dudley.

The Diner house located at 93 Oxford Ave. in Dudley, Mass.
1985 photo by Larry Cultrera

We used to take the street commonly refered to as the “Dudley-Oxford road” as a short cut. I noticed the diner way back then but eventually forgot about it after my brother moved back to the Boston area. It was not until I started documenting diners with my photographs in the early 1980’s that I became re-acquainted with it. In fact, it was my brother Steve who reminded me of it. Since then I believe I photographed it at least 3 different times, the last being circa 1985.

When I started planning to write this post, I decided to check out Google maps and satellite view to see if I could see the structure. I found a street called Dudley Oxford Road (which was not exactly where I thought it should be). I looked up and down that road and nothing looked right! Turns out it was not the correct road. I checked back with Barry Henley and he gave me the correct address which when checked on Google maps coincided with what I remembered.

Barry was taking the perennial shortcut from Dudley to Oxford on Saturday the 17th of March when he could not help but notice the pile of rubble where the structure used to be! He snapped a photo out the side window of his vehicle and posted it to Facebook where I spotted it.

Photo by Barry Henley showing the remains of the demolished diner and house.

We do not know for sure if the diner actually ever operated in this location or was placed here to be a part of someone’s house. Someone I knew over 25 years ago actually went inside this place and said it was basically gutted and being used as a “family room”. The only recognizable thing on the inside was the former refrigerator built into the corner. It was being utilized as a shelf or something.

Barry Henley told me it had been altered since I last saw it and told me to check out a recent real estate listing that described it as…… Structure was originally a diner and converted into a single family residence. Septic will NOT pass Title V. Being sold “AS IS”. All offers considered. This listing also had some photos that showed the original diner windows had been replaced by inexpensive sliding windows. Other than that it was still recognizable.

You can see the listing here at this link….

Here are some of my other photos of it from the 1980’s…..

circa 1983 photo by Larry Cultrera

circa 1983 photo by Larry Cultrera

circa 1985 photo by Larry Cultrera

circa 1985 photo by Larry Cultrera

Allston’s Breakfast Club Diner gets a new on-site addition

early 1980’s photo of Ted’s Diner, Worcester Lunch Car No. 841
originally operated as Fahey’s Diner, it has been run under other names such as Henry’s Diner, Mike’s Diner and more recently as the Breakfast Club.
photo by Larry Cultrera

The diner currently operating as the Breakfast Club in the Allston section of Boston has recently been modified with a decent size handicapped accessible dining room addition. I was first informed about this by Mike Engle who had been by the diner with Glenn Wells and David Hebb after the Author Event for my “Classic Diners of Massachusetts” book in Somerville, Mass. back in November. So, in early December, Denise and I went over to the Breakfast Club for breakfast (of course). I snapped a couple of photos of which the next is one….

Dec. 12, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

As you can see the construction of the new addition was still in process. I was certainly curious about what they intended to do with the exterior covering. Naturally I was hoping for the best but as these things go, it could have been covered in a very uncomplimentary exterior material.

Early this past Saturday afternoon, I received an email from Bob Higgins informing me that he had been by the Breakfast Club and was completely impressed by what they had done. Needless to say, I took a ride over in the late afternoon to see for myself! Bob was right! I could not believe my eyes! Whomever did the work did an exemplary job recreating the “Worcester style” exterior on the new addition.

Here are my photos….

March 17, 2012 photo by Larry Cultrera

March 17, 2012 photo by Larry Cultrera

March 17, 2012 photo by Larry Cultrera

Seeing that this type of construction can still be done and really look decent makes me feel good inside to know that some owners realize what they have and don’t try to mess with it or modernize in a uncomplimentary way. Instead they decided to go the extra mile and do it right! Kudos to owner George Athanasopoulas on a job well done!

The nest generation of Diner Aficionado, revisited !!!!

I intended on writing this post a couple of weeks ago, but with the above mentioned closing of the Fish Tale Diner and the Bel-Aire Diner being demo’d, it just had to be put on the back-burner temporarily.

Back in 2005, in the Spring edition of the Society for Commercial Archeology’s Journal Magazine, I wrote about a few news items in that installment of the original hard-copy version of Diner Hotline. Among these was the announcement of the new exhibit at the Culinary Arts Museum (at Johnson & Wales University) called “Serving the World with Worcester Dining Cars”  accompanying the permanent exhibit “Diners: Still Cookin’ in the 21st Century”. The second piece of news was the release of Randy Garbin’s “Diners of New England” book, published by our friends at Stackpole Books.

There was also an installment of “Notes from the Hotline”  (not unlike this post) where I mentioned about the relocation of the old Cairo Diner (of Cairo, NY) which was hoped to be restored at that point in time, (it never happened as far as I know). Another piece in that “Notes” was about 2 national TV broadcasts featuring diners, Al Roker’s “Diner Destinations” (on the Food Network) and “Back to the Blueprint” featuring Steve Harwin’s Diversified Diners (on the History Channel).

I also had a small piece about my new friend Spencer Stewart describing him as the next generation of Commercial Archeologist. Spencer’s dad Michael, a member of the SCA had influenced his then 14-year-old son and fostered his interest in diners and other roadside places. Spencer had been reading his dad’s copies of the SCA Journal and essentially looked forward to reading “Diner Hotline”! He decided to contact me and introduce himself. I was certainly intrigued by this teenager’s fascination with diners and decided to write about him in the next Hotline. I eventually met Spencer and his dad Michael in September of 2010.

Larry Cultrera and Spencer Stewart at the Portside Diner in Danvers, Mass.
Photo by Michael Stewart

Even though I found Spencer’s love of diners refreshing (reminding me of myself at his age), this was not exactly new to me. You see, back in 1992, I was contacted by a lady from Fort Collins, Colorado by the name of Cindy Siefken, (now Cindy Banfield). She told me about her 7-year-old son Philip and how he developed a keen interest in “Diners”. Cindy related to me how he had been previously struggling in his personal life, in school as well as at home. One day she had come across a television special that featured various diners that she and Philip watched. He became very excited as the Siefken’s reside in a “diner poor” region and Philip had never actually seen a diner before! Cindy said that this new interest had started to bring Phil out of his shell and he wanted to learn all he could about this piece of Americana!

In our conversation she told me how she found my name. She had come across a copy of the November, 1986 edition of Smithsonian Magazine with the major article that I was included in. So she looked me up and found my phone number. I told her that Phil’s interest really intrigued me and that if she did not mind, I could send a little “care package” of diner ephemera and other extra odds and ends to start his collection. She was extremely grateful, especially when I told her I could make a special video tape with various television specials and shows that I had been interviewed for about diners.

Also during that initial conversation, she stated: “well, we don’t have any real diners in Colorado”. I then asked her… how close are you to Lakewood? She answered “not too far”. So I informed her that in fact there was a real honest to God diner called Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner at 9495 West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood. She was beyond ecstatic! As soon as she found out she made plans to take a little excursion with her husband Dave, daughter Emily and of course Phil! The little care package including the video tape I sent, became part of Phil’s Christmas present that year and the family took its first trip to Davies’ Chuck Wagon on Christmas vacation. These next few photos document their first visit to a “real” diner………

Dave, Phil and Emily Siefken outside Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner
December, 1992 photo by Cindy Banfield (formerly Cindy Siefken)

Dave, Emily and Phil Siefken outside Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner
December, 1992 photo by Cindy Banfield

Dave Siefken outside Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner. One of the best “diner” signs anywhere! December, 1992 photo by Cindy Banfield

Inside Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner December, 1992 photo by
Cindy Banfield

Phil and Emily (Dave is almost in the frame) sitting in a booth
December, 1992 photo by Cindy Banfield

Emily and Phil sitting at the counter. December, 1992 photo by
Cindy Banfield

These next photos show the next visit to Davies’ Chuck Wagon on the occasion of Phil’s 8th birthday on March 5, 1993

Phil with his friend Nick celebrating his birthday at Davies’ Chuck Wagon
March, 1993 photo by Cindy Banfield

Phil’s birthday cake, March, 1993 photo by Cindy Banfield

Here is another photo from May of 1993 (I do not know the occasion) showing Phil with a temporary tattoo…..

May, 1993 photo by Cindy Banfield

Well, I had basically fallen out of touch with Phil and his mom over the last number of years. I did have a more recent contact with Cindy a few years ago and found out she had gotten divorced and then remarried, so at least I knew that tidbit of information. But last year I was thinking of them again and got the bright idea to look them up on Facebook. Lo and behold I found both of them! We renewed our friendship and are now in touch more on a regular basis. He is currently employed as the Maintenance Manager of the Armstrong Hotel in Fort Collins!

I recently asked Phil about the photos his mother sent me back then. I figured they were from 2 different trips. I also asked him about his memories and feelings on his first visit to Davies’ Chuck Wagon back when he was 7-years old. He wrote back with this…..

Yes they were two different occasions. My parents took my sister and me there once before my birthday; in either January or February I assume (turns out it was December). I recall that when we went there for my Birthday, my friend Nick came with us. I remember I was so excited on the first trip there (about 60 miles from home) I was actually anxious because we were not sure if it would even still be there, having never been there before and only knowing by the post card you sent me that it had been there in the past.

I remember that my sister was not a willing participant, she was a picky eater at age 6 and it didn’t help that we drove by Casa Bonita a mile or two east of the Diner to get there. (Casa Bonita is a kid-oriented Mexican restaurant with cliff divers and an indoor waterfall & such). I was delighted when we got there and saw it for the first time. Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner was the first Diner I had ever seen. As you know we have almost none out west here and it seemed so exotic to me.

I loved the manufactured look and the gleaming stainless steel. As soon as we walked in, it didn’t feel as exotic, it felt incredibly familiar, humble, and intimate due to the small size (compared to other restaurants). My father was a truck driver and I had been to several truck stops before, so seeing features like the counter and stools. The career waitresses were another thing that made it seem humble. This was not the kind of place my parents would go after Church while pretending to be yuppies with a perfect family and I liked that. Davies’ invited you to be truly authentic and beautiful much like the diner itself. I honestly don’t recall how the food was or what the prices were like, but very little has changed since my first visit. It’s safe to assume that it’s always had good food at reasonable prices. Back in about 93 fake diners started popping up in this area and I remember despising them even as an 8 year old for being cheap knock-offs.

That conversation with Phil came earlier this month. I saw that it was Phil’s birthday (his 27th), boy does time fly! I of course wished him a Happy Birthday and he responded back to say he had made a special trip to Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner for lunch that day! He then posted  3 photos he had shot with his phone on his Facebook page. That is what got me thinking about this post. I mentioned I would like to use those shots and he said I was welcome to use them. So here are Phil’s shots from March 5th of this year…..

exterior photo of Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner by Phil Siefken

interior photo of Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner by Phil Siefken

exterior photo of Davies’ Chuck Wagon Diner by Phil Siefken

My friend Phil Siefken at 27 years of age!

I know if Phil ever travels out this way, he will get a tour of all the great diners here in the Greater Boston area from yours truly!

Notes from the Hotline, 01-14-2012

Classic Diners of Massachusetts Slide Presentation
January 23rd in Medford, Mass.

I will be doing a slide presentation based on my Classic Diners of Massachusetts book at the Medford Public Library on January 23, 2012. The presentation will be similar to the one I did for the Somerville Public Library with some modifications. These will include some images of diners from Medford’s past.

Here is the blurb the Library posted on their website….

Classic Diners of Massachusetts A Lecture by Larry Cultrera

Monday, January 23 at 7:00 p.m.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts was the birthplace of “night lunch wagon” manufacturing industry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. These horse-drawn food carts eventually evolved into classic American diners. For many years, diner builders like the Worcester Lunch Car Company and J.B. Judkins Company operated in the Bay State, although few new diners opened for business after 1960. This left the state with a high concentration of some of the best-preserved diners built during the early to mid-twentieth century, including the Capitol Diner in Lynn, the Route 66 Diner in Springfield and Buddy’s Diner in Somerville.

Medford native Larry Cultrera is a diner historian and the author of the Diner Hotline blog. His new book Classic Diners of Massachusetts has just been released by the History Press.The Library is located at 111 High Street (Route 60) on-street parking as well as a small parking lot behind the building is available.


Rosebud Diner of Somerville, Mass. changing owners soon

Rosebud Diner postcard designed by Larry Cultrera

I got a phone call on January 1st from old friend Arthur Krim, a founding member of the Society for Commercial Archeology. It seems he was contacted by Kristi Chase of the Somerville Historical Comission who was concerned about the future of the Rosebud Diner. Arthur asked me if I had any knowledge of the possible sale of the diner, I told him that I had not heard anything. I last saw Bill Nichols (whose family owns the diner) back in November at my “Author Event” held at the Somerville Public Library and nothing was mentioned then. Arthur informed me that Kristi had heard from someone who stated he was in the process of purchasing the Rosebud and wanted to change or alter the neon sign on the roof. I told Arthur that I would look into the situation.

I called Bill Nichols shortly after talking with Arthur and asked him what was happening. He said everything was fine and that he knew nothing about any changes concerning the diner. So I thought, well maybe this was just a rumor. The next day I called Kristi Chase and she in turn reitierated what she told Arthur and the news sounded credible. Because the diner is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Historical Commission needs to be informed on possible changes to listed properties. Well I called Bill back and told him what was said. Needless to say he was surprised and a little upset, it seems his dad  was selling the diner and had not yet informed him.

I again contacted Bill this past week after he had spoken with his dad who told him that someone had approached him with an offer to by the building/business. Bill says he is not sure of the actual timeline but estimates the change in ownership will happen possibly within the next month or month and  half. I am sad for this change and hope that nothing drastic happens to this long-time landmark in my life.


Glenn Wells’s RoadsideFans website migrates to WordPress

Good friend, colleague and occasional road trip buddy Glenn Wells received a nice Christmas present from his stepson Ray Milstrey, an updated website/blog. Ray also created the old RoadsideFans website, but now that the site has migrated to WordPress, it will become interactive. Here is what Glenn says about the move……

The new is a WordPress blog, and if that seems familiar, it’s because several other roadside-related web sites already use WordPress – Diner Hotline, Retro Roadmap, Diner Hunter, and Lincoln Highway News among them. As with the others, visitors to RoadsideFans will now have a chance to leave comments – simply click the arrow at the top right and scroll down to the bottom of the posting. There will probably be more new features yet to come as I become more familiar with WordPress.

You will find several features from the old web site on the new By clicking FEATURES on the bar above, you can access the Howard Johnson’s, barbecue chicken, and Taconic Parkway features from the old web site. However, the Online Diner Tours and some other photo features from the old site have been retired. Most of these were a decade or more old, and many of the places no longer exist or have changed names. I am considering uploading the pictures to a Flickr account to maintain the historical record. 

I want to congratulate Glenn on the updated website and wish him good luck. I know I have enjoyed using wordpress for Diner Hotline! You can find a link to RoadsideFans in my blogroll as well as here….

SRO in Somerville, next up… North Dartmouth!

The Author Event at the Somerville Public Library was a success! It became a standing room only crowd! There were more than quite a few books sold.

Some of my family showed up in Somerville, left to right, my brother Don and his wife  Jane, my brother Steve, me and my brother Rick.
photo by Denise Cultrera

This was billed as the first “Meet, Mingle and Read” event at the Library and Library Director Maria Carpenter was very gracious and pleasant to work with. My new slide presentation was well received and there were quite a few members of the audience that participated in the question and answer part after the presentation. The library had some catered “diner-like” food for people to partake of (it was from the local “Sound Bites” restaurant, none of the 3 diners in Somerville could accomodate the request for food).

Some members of my family showed up for this including my brothers Steve, Rick and Don and Don’s wife Jane, as well as Denise’s cousin Maryann Bancroft and her husband Rick. Another old friend, Vinny Bordonaro stopped by as well as a former co-worker of mine Ed Lecaroz and his friend Beth. Old friend and owner of the Rosebud Diner, Bill Nichols was there along with David Hebb, one of my long-time diner roadtrip buddies as well as newer friends Glenn Wells and Mike Engle. Glenn and Mike get the long distance award for driving all the way from the Albany, NY area to attend! Many thanks to my wife Denise for all her help including the photos she shot. I think she is getting pretty good with the Nikon Cool Pix camera.

left to right, David Hebb, Mike Engle, Glenn Wells and myself.
photo by Denise Cultrera

This coming Saturday at 11:00 am, it is on to Baker Books in North Dartmouth, Mass. as well as a radio interview with New Bedford’s Shawmut Diner owner and local radio personality Phil Paleologos at 10:15 am on Tuesday, November 22 (WBSM-AM). Here is a link to the event page at Baker Books….

April Vacation, 2011 – Part 1

This is the first time in about 3 years that I was able to take a week’s vacation in the early spring. I generally like to take a week in April and another week at the beginning of August when I can. So last Saturday I took a roadtrip out to Albany, NY by way of Route 2. This road has been a favorite of mine since I was young. You see my Dad used to love to take the family on “short rides”. Some were longer than others, but one in particular stands out. He got the family (with the exception of my older brother) into the car one day and said we were going on a short ride and we ended up in the Berkshire Hills on the Mohawk Trail (Rte. 2). To those unfamiliar with this area, we lived near Boston in eastern Massachusetts and the Mohawk Trail is in the extreme northwest corner of the state! Now that’s my kind of a short ride!

So continuing with this years April vacation, I was heading out to Albany to attend a Rock n’ Roll Expo. This Expo was basically your everyday vinyl record and rock n’ roll memorabilia collectors show. There were also performers at the show including Starz, a 1980’s band and also a John Lennon tribute band called “Imagining Lennon”. But the draw for me was that Tommy James (of Tommy James and the Shondells fame) was going to be there signing copies of his autobiography “Me, the Mob and the Music”, as well as a “meet and greet” with fans.

Denise decided not to accompany me on this trip, so I was on my own. Even though I missed her company, this was probably just as well as I needed to revisit some diners in the central and western areas of Massachusetts (on my way out and also coming back) for info and new photos for my “Classic Diners of Massachusetts” book and she would not have enjoyed all the stops at the diners. This trip out to Albany would provide a good opportunity to get some of that out of the way! So on the way out I stopped at the Blue Moon Diner in Gardner for breakfast. Owner, Jamie Floyd knew I was coming because I gave her a heads-up a day or so before on Facebook.

I got some great info and photos as well as a delicious breakfast while visiting Jamie. This is a diner I highly recommend if you are in the area!

Jamie Floyd, owner of the Blue Moon Diner in Gardner, Mass.
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Interior of the Blue Moon Diner, April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Exterior of the Blue Moon Diner, April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

After leaving the Blue Moon, I continued heading west and got to Adams, Mass. about 9:00 am. I was expected at the Miss Adams Diner by owner Philomene Belair. We had been in contact for quite some time in the recent weeks. She had already sent me all the info I pretty much needed for the book and I wanted some new photos. Philomene and her husband Ric reopened the diner a little over a year ago on February 15, 2010. I am happy to report that it looks like this beleaguered diner is in good hands, and that hopefully down the line that they will have the money to bring the interior back to a semblance of what it used to be.

Interior of the Miss Adams Diner. Hopefully the Belairs will be able to restore the ceiling, getting rid of those LP vinyl records that were glued to the original formica panels by a previous owner!
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

The crew at the Miss Adams Diner, Left-Right  Ric & Philomene Belair, Richard “Pip” Belair (Ric’s Dad) and Kelly Cross. 
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Miss Adams Diner, April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

I spent a little over an hour visiting with Philomene and then continued on to Albany. I was driving into Troy, NY and called Glenn Wells to let him know I was in the area. When I told him where I was, he said you are about to go right past the “Famous Lunch”! Sure enough, he was right. I said I would call him after I visited Bill Brown over at the Miss Albany Diner and got off the phone. I went around the block and found a parking lot right next to the Famous Lunch and went in to try out a couple of their neat little hot dogs with “Zippy Sauce”, I had heard so much about.

Famous Lunch, 111 Congress St., Troy, NY
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

The small hot dogs at Famous Lunch, photo from Famous Lunch website

Those 2 hot dogs I had were really scrumptious! If you are ever in Troy, you have to check this place out! The interior walls and ceiling are covered in green porcelain enameled steel panels! Their website is….

I left Troy and drove a few miles down river to the Miss Albany Diner and visited briefly with Bill Brown. The place was hopping for an early Saturday afternoon!

Miss Albany Diner, April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

I met up with Glenn Wells at the Halfmoon Diner which is about a mile from where he lives. It is a very nice 1989 vintage DeRaffele-built diner that is currently undergoing a slight remodelling (by DeRaffele). The owner, Peter was very welcoming to me when Glenn introduced us. He had very warm feelings of dealing with Phil DeRaffele over the years and could not say enough good things about him and his company!

Halfmoon Diner, Clifton Park, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Halfmoon Diner, Clifton Park, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

We dropped my car off at Glenns house where I met his lovely wife Susan finally. We talked briefly and then Glenn and I left to shanghai Mike Engle from whatever he might have been doing! The first place Glenn took me was the Snow Man Ice Cream stand at 531 5th Avenue in Troy. I had seen photos of this place and wanted to get some for myself…..

Snow Man Ice Cream, Troy, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Snow Man Ice Cream, Troy, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Snow Man Ice Cream, Troy, NY. April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

After shooting the Snow Man photos, Glenn drove over to the Country View Diner in Brunswick, NY. This is a 1980’s Swingle Diner that was updated more recently by DeRaffele.

Country View Diner of Brunswick, NY
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

Country View Diner of Brunswick, NY
April 16, 2011 photo by Larry Cultrera

We also went by Dewey’s Diner and Inga’s Diner which happen to live right next door to each other on Fuller Road in Albany. Dewey’s is a 1940 vintage Kullman Diner that has seen better days (certainly on the outside) and Inga’s is an on-site built diner.

Dewey’s Diner, Albany, NY. April 16, photo by Larry Cultrera

Dewey’s Diner, Albany, NY. April 16, photo by Larry Cultrera

Inga’s Diner, Albany, NY. April 16, photo by Larry Cultrera

Inga’s Diner, Albany, NY. April 16, photo by Larry Cultrera

We visited 3 more diners last Saturday and I will continue this in the next post, stay tuned…..

Diner Hotline marking 30 Years of documenting Diners!

I always consider the weekend of Thanksgiving, specifically the Saturday after the Holiday, the anniversary of when I tentatively shot my first 35mm photo of a Diner. The actual date is November 29th (this coming Monday) but who’s counting? Me of course! It seems almost unbelievable that 30 years has gone by since that gray Saturday in Harrisburg, PA. I was with my brother Rick and old friend Scott Drown and we were visiting Steve Repucci whom we had helped moved to H’Burg the previous Labor Day Weekend.

The three of us had driven down from Massachusetts the day before and as I recall, our route down took us out I-90 to I-86 (a few years later I-86 was to be absorbed by I-84 in MA & CT), then I-84 all the way out to Scranton, PA, where we headed south on I-81.

I also recall the highway was shrouded in the thickest fog I have ever driven through, between Scranton and Harrisburg! I am glad it was the middle of the day, still it was one of the scariest rides I have ever been on!

Anyway, I do not recall what we did that Friday after we got down to Harrisburg but I know the next morning we drove down the street from where Steve and his room-mate Ed Womer were residing to the Bypass Diner on Herr Street (Rte. 22 bypass) in Harrisburg for breakfast. After the meal we went outside and I took out the old 35mm Mamiya camera and shot a photo from the left front of the diner.

Bypass Diner, Harrisburg, PA – Nov. 29, 1980 photo by Larry Cultrera
The diner has been operating for many years as the American Dream Diner

That is my 1979 blue Chevy Van in the parking lot. I drove that 271,000 miles between April of 1979 and December of 1988 and needless to say, a huge portion of that mileage (and time) was spent hunting Diners!

Since that day I have shot probably into the thousands of photos of diners throughout the northeast states as far down as Virginia and Tennessee, (skipped the Carolinas) and been able to document at least one in Georgia (Marietta Diner, Marietta) and then down to Florida to shoot a few more. I’ve also documented diners as far west as Ohio, Michigan and Illinois. According to my database diner log I have documented 815 diners with negative, slide and digital photography.

I have met some interesting people in the last 30 years including Richard & Kellie Gutman, John Baeder, David Hebb, Brian Butko, Randy Garbin, Glenn Wells, Mike Engle and Beth Lennon. I also want to acknowledge Diner owners who have become close friends…. Bob Fennell of the Capitol Diner,  Lynn, Mass. and Bill Nichols of the Rosebud Diner, Somerville, Mass. and Phil Paleologos of the Shawmut Diner, New Bedford, Mass.

I cannot forget to include the late Warren Jones, former owner of the Apple Tree Diner of Deham, Mass. as well as the late Owen Abdalian, former owner of the Main Street Diner of Woburn, Mass. who each passed away way too early and hold a special place in my memories.

Most of all I also want to acknowledge my wonderful wife Denise, who puts up with me, the collection of memorabilia and the obsession! Hopefully, I will continue this quest and be able to document more diners, although the long road trips have dwindled to a very few as years have gone by, and I will continue my efforts of passing along info to you my faithful readers with this blog, Diner Hotline!

Disclaimer: to be clear, this is not the 30th anniversary of the creation of Diner Hotline, just the 30th anniversary of shooting my first Diner photograph, the beginning of my efforts to document the American Diner, which of course spawned the creation of Diner Hotline in 1988 – LAC

Diner Hotline (& me) are mentioned in a Philadelphia Inquirer article on the upcoming reopening of Camden, NJ’s Elgin Diner

Elgin Diner photo circa June, 1993 by Larry Cultrera

While  Denise and I were visiting her sister Sarah in Laconia, NH on Saturday evening. I borrowed Sarah’s laptop computer to check my email. Among the emails was a post from Glenn Wells on his Roadside Fans Yahoo Group message board with text from a Philadelphia Inquirer article. The article was about Camden, NJ’s Elgin Diner. It said the diner was soon to reopen which is welcome news to classic diner afficianados who know this diner. As I was reading, I was surprised to see that myself and this blog were mentioned!  Matt Katz the staff reporter who wrote the Phiily Inquirer article must have seen my post from March of last year, see it at….. Thanks to Matt Katz for the mention!

You can check it out at