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The First Diners

Growing Popularity

Fall of the Diner

Diners Today

 

 

 

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Jaypeg Loves Donuts

Zeero Takes a Spin

 

 

Fall of the Diner
July 2002

At their height, there were around 10,000 diners in America. But when factories and businesses left cities to move to the suburbs, less people went to diners. People who traditionally went to diners, men who lived and worked in the area, were no longer there. In cities like Trenton, diners almost completely disappeared.

In the 1950s, many diners reinvented their image so new customers would come. New diners opened up in the suburbs because many people were moving there from the cities. Old diners became cleaner and added booths, so women and children would want to eat there. Diner owners also tried to attract teenagers. Jukeboxes and soda fountains were put in, so teens would want to hang out there after school. Many diners still have jukeboxes in booths today.

There are many interesting stories about New Jersey diners from this time. In the 1960s, waitresses at the Club Diner wouldn't write down orders on a pad like today. Instead, they wore punch cards on their belts and punched out the prices of the orders. They had to remember what food their customers ordered to tell the cook.   photo of a jukebox

Famous diners also opened during this time period. The Short Stop Diner in Bloomfield opened in 1953. Today they are still famous for serving "eggs in a skillet." Customers eat their eggs right out of the skillet. Perhaps the most famous New Jersey diner, Rosie's Diner, was built in 1946. Originally located in Little Ferry, the outside is made completely out of stainless steel. The diner became famous in 1970 when Bounty paper towel commercials featuring Rosie the waitress were set there. However, the diner moved to Michigan in 1991.

Despite these few successes, most diners hit hard times. Fast food chains like McDonald's began appearing in the late 1950s, and people ate there instead. Soon, many diners and diner builders went out of business.

Next: Diners Today


 
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