Exhibit on Silk City Diners

Silk-City-poster

My friend Michael Gabriele, Author of The History of Diners in New Jersey (The History Press, 2013) in conjunction with The Lambert Castle Museum is presenting an exhibit on Paterson’s Silk City Diner manufacturing business. It will open on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 and run through October 5, 2014 at the Lambert Castle Museum, 3 Valley Road, Paterson, NJ. There will be a reception on September 21st  which will double as a reunion of sorts for the extended Cooper family who started the Paterson Vehicle Company (manufacturers of the Silk City Diner). I must say that personally, Silk City Diners are quite possibly my favorite as far as the Jersey Diner builders are concerned!

The museum is open from noon to 4 p.m. Attached is a link to the Lambert Castle website and the digital flyer for the exhibit.

http://www.lambertcastle.org/

Notes from the Hotline, 9-14-2013

A Brand-new book on New Hampshire Diners in the works

Littleton-Diner-5a
Littleton Diner – Littleton, NH, July 30, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I have been fairly inactive for over a month, as far as posting anything new here. No excuses, just a little end of the summer laziness on my part. But not to worry….. I have been getting out on the road recently, mostly starting at the end of July right thru to Labor day Weekend, with a few trips to the Granite State (New Hampshire for those non-local readers).  The reason for this is that I was contacted by Katie Orlando, a Commissioning Editor for my publisher, The History Press. She inquired if I was interested in writing another book for them, this time on Diners of New Hampshire. I told her that I would need to think about it as well as talk it over with my wife Denise.

Plain-Jane's-Diner-6
Plain Jane’s Diner – Rumney, NH, July 30, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

After some consideration, I got back to Katie and told her I thought that this book was a possibility and she sent the “Authors Proposal” for me to fill out. I took my time filling it out as I needed to think about how this book would work, as opposed to my first one, Classic Diners of Massachusetts. I realized fairly quickly that the new book could not be set-up like the first. You see, Massachusetts has clearly defined regions with many diners. This approach would not be workable with New Hampshire’s geography and diner count.

Route-104-Diner-2
Route 104 Diner – New Hampton, NH, August 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

After coming to this conclusion, I started putting the proposal together which included a rough outline for the book. It was easier this time around because I did not have to include any writing samples. I just told them to refer to the first book!  I finally sent this proposal to Katie, within the last couple of weeks.  As of this Wednesday The History Press gave the project a green light.

Tilt'n-Diner-3a
Tilt’n Diner – Tilton, NH, August 3, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

In the meantime, in anticipation of the project I started taking some updated photos of New Hampshire diners. Some of my photos of them go back 30 years. I figured that I would get a jump while the good weather was here and try to hit some of the far-flung diners and meet the current owners, gathering new photos and info. My deadline is fairly long this time around (on purpose), that is part of the reason I took my time in getting the proposal in. So any photos I do not get in the next couple of months, I can surely make up for in the spring and early summer of 2014. So, here we go again!

Mt-Pisgah-2a_8-31-2013
Mt. Pisgah Diner – Winchester, NH, August 31, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

By the way, on a side note, the new book will not be titled “Classic Diners of New Hampshire” as I had hoped. I did want to continue the theme but Katie informed me that a guy named Bruce D. Heald, an historian and author of many books about New Hampshire is slated to bring a book with that title out in the spring (for Fonthill Media). I respect Mr. Heald’s credentials and would be interested to see what he comes up with but, he is not a known diner aficionado and to my knowledge, has not contacted anybody who could be described as an expert in this field of interest as of yet.

Hillsborough-2a_8-31-2013
Hillsborough Diner – Hillsborough, NH, August 31, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

I have not decided on a title yet but will be working on this in the near future.

The History Press to release 2 new “Diner” books this Fall

Speaking of “Diner” books, I am happy to report that my publisher is about to release 2 new titles this fall…. the second and third after my Massachusetts book. Toward the end of September, Michael Gabriele’s The History of Diners in New Jersey will be available. I believe I will be mentioned in this book as well as some photos of mine might actually show up in the book. I am anxious to see what he has put together.

History-of-Diners-in-NJ-cover

Following the NJ book, sometime in October, Garrison Leykam’s “Classic Diners of Connecticut” book will be out. I was surprised to see my name (along with Christopher Dobbs) on the cover. We both contributed Forewords to this book.

Classic-Diners-of-CT-cover

Iron Town Diner opens within walking distance of my house

I have been waiting all summer for the opening of a new diner located right around the corner from where I live. Toward the end of May, a sign went up on a vacant storefront in the Village Park Shopping Center that is situated on Main Street at the corner of the Lynn Fells Parkway in Saugus, Mass. This storefront had been occupied for years by J.Pace’s, an Italian Deli/specialty store. Pace’s moved down the street about a quarter mile to a new building that they built, leaving the storefront vacant for almost 2 years. The landlord has subdivided the location and Iron Town diner is in not quite half of Pace’s spot.

Iron-Town-Diner-sign-1
Iron Town Diner sign – Saugus, Mass., May 19, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

The owner of the Iron Town Diner is George Varelas and I actually stopped by back in August and spoke with Athena, George’s mother. She was gracious and gave me a little tour of the as yet unfinished diner. I was impressed with what they had done to essentially a blank canvas. The interior was well laid out with a small “L” shaped counter on the left side along with tables and chairs as well as booths. She mentioned the diner would hold upwards of 90 patrons, a pretty decent size! Athena said they were looking at an early September opening.

I met George last Sunday morning and he told me they were opening the next day (Sept. 9th). I told him we would stop by on bright and early on Saturday ! True to my word, Denise and I stopped in this morning and before we actually step a foot within the diner, I saw a familiar face….. Saadia Zraizaa was a waitress there! We became friendly with Saadia last year when she and her husband had been running the Medford Square Diner in my hometown of Medford. We had found out that Saadia had worked for 10 years at the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown. I had heard thru the grapevine that she had sold the business in Medford a few months ago and was not surprised to see her here, as she lives in nearby Revere. She is very pleasant and during our conversation this morning, I realized that I had actually met her years ago when she worked for Judy’s Diner in Malden for 7 years in the late 1980’s and early 90’s.

Iron-Town-Diner-2a
Iron Town Diner –  Saugus, Mass., September 14, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Anyway we had a very good breakfast at Iron Town Diner (named for the Historic Saugus Iron Works, a National Historic Site). The portions are pretty good sized and prices reasonable and the service is pleasant. I understand they have been doing a pretty decent business since they opened their doors! I know one thing, I could easily become a regular customer here for sure!

Another Diner Road Trip – 27 years ago this weekend

I have been rather delinquent in posting recently. In part due to laziness and also because I have been contemplating this post, I just needed to scan a bunch of slides for it. A few months ago I scanned some slides for Michael Gabriele that he may or may not end up using in his forthcoming book – The History of Diners in New Jersey for my publisher, The History Press. Two of the slide boxes I left out purposely to remind me about this post and get busy scanning.

Well that really did not spur me into action and they sat (and sat). Finally a little over a week ago I got off my rear end and started scanning because Memorial Day Weekend was fast approaching and the post I wanted to write was about a Diner road trip I took on Memorial Day Weekend in 1986!

When I had scanned the slides of Paul’s Diner of Kearny, NJ for Mike G., I looked at the other slides in the box and remembered that trip. I also realized there was one other box of slides (as well as 5 slides in yet a third box) that were associated with that trip. So today I completed the scanning process and decided to get on with this post before the weekend is over!

Memorial Day Weekend in 1986 was May 24th thru 26th (Saturday to Monday). These road trips were usually taken with either Steve Repucci or David Hebb (or both). I believe this was a Dave Hebb trip….. well anyway, we more than likely took off early as I usually liked to do on Saturday, May 24th and made it down to Fairfield, CT and Larry’s Diner, as it was the first one photographed on this trip. That Saturday was pretty overcast, weather-wise as the photos will show.

I had already been to Larry’s 3 years earlier according to my Diner Log, so it was not listed in the log on this trip in 1986. We may even have had breakfast here but more than likely it was at the very least a coffee stop and photo op. This diner was built by the Jerry O’Mahony Co. in the early 1930’s and was still in extremely original condition at this point.

Larry's-Diner-1
Larry’s Diner, U.S. Rte. 1 in Fairfield, CT  –  Right Front corner
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Larry's-Diner-3
Larry’s Diner, U.S. Rte. 1 in Fairfield, CT   –  Left Front corner
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Larry's-Diner-6
Larry’s Diner, U.S. Rte. 1 in Fairfield, CT  – Left front showing the interesting
addition to the diner – a lunch wagon sized annex with a frosted window!
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Larry’s Diner, was moved around the corner from this location in the 1990’s and completely gutted on the interior to become the front of another restaurant. The outside was also changed.

Our next stop was George’s Diner at 71 Main Street in Norwalk, CT. This was a Mountain View Diner that was also fairly original inside and out with one exception, there was a brick facade under the windows facing Main St. and on the entryway. The rest of the facade was intact. The diner is still there and operating under the name “Family Diner” now.

George's-Diner-1George’s Diner, 71 Main St.  in Norwalk, CT
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

George's-Diner-2
George’s Diner, 71 Main St.  in Norwalk, CT
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Down the road a piece just off U.S. Rte. 1 in Cos Cob, CT was a small 1920’s vintage barrel-roofed diner called Thanh’s Diner. It had formerly been known as Pal Joey’s Diner. This was believed to be an old Tierney diner built down the road in New Rochelle. This diner does not exist anymore.

Thanh's-Diner-1
Thanh’s Diner, just off U.S. Rte. 1  in Cos Cob, CT
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Thanh's-Diner-3
Thanh’s Diner, just off U.S. Rte. 1  in Cos Cob, CT
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

A diner I had first read about in the book Diners of the Northeast by Donald Kaplan and Allison Bellink was the Chinatown Diner, a late 1940’s vintage diner (could be a Kullman but more than likely DeRaffele) located at 301 Halstead Ave. in Harrison, NY. It had been serving primarily Chinese food as well as an American breakfast menu when Don and Allison had visited it. By the time I finally got there in 1986, it had become an upscale bistro called the Silver Spoon Cafe.

Silver-Spoon-Cafe-2
Silver Spoon Cafe, 301 Halstead Ave.  in Harrison, NY
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Silver-Spoon-Cafe-4
Silver Spoon Cafe, 301 Halstead Ave.  in Harrison, NY
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

When I originally wrote this post I thought the Silver Spoon Cafe was the final photo op of the day. But alas, it turns out I missed a couple of images of yet another diner that was previously logged (it did not show up in the May of 1986 section of the log, that is why I forgot to upload these). It seems we got over to the northwest corner of the Garden State and checked out Prout’s Diner in Sussex by late afternoon.

Prouts-Diner-5
Prout’s Diner, Main Street.  in Sussex, NJ
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Prouts-Diner-7
Prout’s Diner, Main Street.  in Sussex, NJ
May 24, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

It looked like the weather was finally turning for the better before night came on and sure enough, bright and early on the morning of May 25th (my 33rd birthday), it was a very sunny day which made for a great breakfast and even better photos at Pal’s Diner on Rte. 17 in Mahwah, NJ.

Pal's-Diner-1
Pal’s Diner, Rte. 17  in Mahwah, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Pal's-Diner-3
Pal’s Diner, Rte. 17  in Mahwah, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Pal’s Diner is one of a very few diners I have photographed that was built by Manno Diners. It was moved in the 1990’s to Grand Rapids, Michigan where it continues to operate to this day!

The next diner photographed that morning (according to the order of slides in the box) was in fact another diner I had previously visited, the White Manna on River Street in Hackensack, NJ. This was the first of several “small” diners we documented on this trip. All of these particular small diners were built dating from the late 1930’s to early 1950’s. Most offered limited menus offering hamburgers, etc. Being that it was Sunday morning, it was not open at the point in time that I stopped. I was able to document it pretty well on the exterior but the fact that it was closed offered me a great opportunity to get some great interior “thru-the-window” shots as well.

White-Manna-1
White Manna, 358 River St.  in Hackensack, NJ
May 25, 1986 exterior photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Manna-2
White Manna, 358 River St.  in Hackensack, NJ
May 25, 1986 exterior photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Manna-5
White Manna, 358 River St.  in Hackensack, NJ
May 25, 1986 interior photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Manna-4
White Manna, 358 River St.  in Hackensack, NJ
May 25, 1986 interior photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Manna-6
White Manna, 358 River St.  in Hackensack, NJ
May 25, 1986 interior photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Manna-8
White Manna, 358 River St.  in Hackensack, NJ
May 25, 1986 interior photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Manna-7
White Manna, 358 River St.  in Hackensack, NJ
May 25, 1986 interior photo by Larry Cultrera

Next up was another small diner….. the White Diamond on St. Georges Ave. (Rte. 27) in Linden, NJ. This looks to be built by Mountain View diners and I believe it was moved to another location not too far away within the intervening years since I documented it.

White-Diamond_L-2
White Diamond, St. Georges Ave.  in Linden, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Diamond_L-3
White Diamond, St. Georges Ave.  in Linden, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Another small diner and possibly the jewel of the bunch was the Short Stop located at 26 Washington Ave. in Belleville, NJ. One of the cutest diners I have ever photographed, this diner was bought quite a few years ago by Steve Harwin of Cleveland, Ohio’s Diversified Diners. As far as I know, Steve still has this one in storage.

Short-Stop-2
Short Stop Diner, 26 Washington Ave.  in Belleville, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Short-Stop-5
Short Stop Diner, 26 Washington Ave.  in Belleville, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

We made it over to the Harrison/Kearny area after this and saw Max’s Grill, but probably due to the morning light and Max’s being on the wrong side of the street… I did not shoot any photos of it. Just up the street from Max’s on the opposite side just over the line in Kearny we came across another small diner, the Blue Castle System. This diner has since disappeared. There is a Shell Gas Station on the sight now according to Google street view.

Blue-Castle-2
Blue Castle System Diner, 829 Harrison Ave.  in Kearny, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Blue-Castle-3
Blue Castle System Diner, 829 Harrison Ave.  in Kearny, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Just down the street from the Blue Castle was Paul’s Diner, a 1940’s vintage Fodero. I have recently found out the diner is still there and operating as the Cardinal Diner. The only visible change I could determine was that it now sports a mansard roof that covers the original monitor style roof.

Paul's-Diner-2
Paul’s Diner, 1002 Harrison Ave.  in Kearny, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Paul's-Diner-3
Paul’s Diner, 1002 Harrison Ave.  in Kearny, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

We got over to the Orange, NJ area shortly after and located the closed (taken for back taxes) Orange Diner on Lincoln Ave. behind the U.S. Post Office. This was a nice looking Mountain View diner. I do not know what happened to this diner other than the fact that the space is currently occupied by a parking lot.

Orange-Diner-2
Orange Diner, Lincoln Ave.  in Orange, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Orange-Diner-3
Orange Diner, Lincoln Ave.  in Orange, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Also in Orange we found the State Diner over on Valley Road. This 1950’s Kullman diner as far as I know is still there, although I do not know if it is currently in operation.

State-Diner-1
State Diner, Valley Rd.  in Orange, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

State-Diner-3
State Diner, Valley Rd.  in Orange, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Next up was the nicely preserved 1930’s vintage Summit Diner located at the corner of Summit Ave. and Union Place in downtown Summit, NJ. This was typical of what the Jerry O’Mahony diner company was building by the late 30’s. The diner is still there and operating.

Summit-Diner-2
Summit Diner, Summit Ave. & Union Pl.  in Summit, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Summit-Diner-5
Summit Diner, Summit Ave. & Union Pl.  in Summit, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

Here is the last small diner we saw that day… the 2nd of 3 White Diamond Hamburger places (we did not see the 3rd one located in Clark, NJ on this trip). This one was located at the corner of Bayway Ave. and Thomas St. in Elizabeth, NJ. I just checked Google street view and there is a Dunkin Donuts on the same location now.

White-Diamond_E-1
White Diamond, Bayway Ave. & Thomas St.  in Elizabeth, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Diamond_E-3
White Diamond, Bayway Ave. & Thomas St.  in Elizabeth, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

White-Diamond_E-5
White Diamond, Bayway Ave. & Thomas St.  in Elizabeth, NJ
May 25, 1986 photo by Larry Cultrera

After Elizabeth, NJ we were back on the road for home and made one last stop for a photo op back in Norwalk, CT. This was for the former Norwalk Diner at that time operating as Cafe Osman. This looks to be a 1940 vintage DeRaffele diner, the type that resembled what Fodero was building at the same point in time. This diner had been altered by bricking up the facade under the windows. In fact the diner which was situated end-wise to the street had a door that was in the center of the facade facing the driveway/parking area that apparently was not used anymore. This door had been “bricked-up” as well with only the top half of the window showing. I do not know if this is still there.

Cafe-Osman-1
Cafe Osman, Main St.  in Norwalk, CT
May 25, 1986 exterior photo by Larry Cultrera

Cafe-Osman-4
Cafe Osman, Main St.  in Norwalk, CT
May 25, 1986 exterior photo by Larry Cultrera

Cafe-Osman-5
Cafe Osman, Main St.  in Norwalk, CT
May 25, 1986 interior photo by Larry Cultrera

The next road trip was not until August 1st of 1986when Dave Hebb and I photographed a couple of diners in Verbank and Millbrook… in eastern upstate New York.