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The First Diners

Growing Popularity

Fall of the Diner

Diners Today




Coloring Book Pages (pdf):

Jaypeg Loves Donuts

Zeero Takes a Spin



Growing Popularity
July 2002

More diners began to appear in cities with factories, like Trenton, Hackensack, and Newark. Men gathered there before and after work to drink, talk, and eat. Many did not want women customers, but some tried to attract them by installing booths because women didn't like sitting on stools. Cleanliness was not important at any diner; they often were very dirty, and some didn't even have bathrooms.

Before air conditioning was invented, diners would get hot. When the Club Diner opened in Bellmawr, waitresses would put cold towels on their faces to keep from fainting.

As diners grew in popularity, the number of diner manufacturers also grew. Most manufacturers were located in New Jersey. Jerry O'Mahony worked in Bayonne and was one of the leading manufacturers from the 1920s to the 1950s. Kullman started building diners in 1927 in Newark and is the oldest diner manufacturer still in operation.   photo of a coffee pot

Someone who wanted to buy a diner in the 1920s and 1930s could order one from a brochure and have it delivered in about three months. A basic Jerry O'Mahony diner with dishes, glassware, and cookware cost $7,000. Around 1950 the average price was $36,000. Today it would cost over $100,000, and you don't get any dishes.

One diner in New Jersey is considered by many people to be the first fast food eatery. The White Mana Diner in Jersey City originally opened at the 1939 World's Fair in New York. After the fair the owner moved the diner to its current location. It's designed to move food quickly from the grill to customers' plates, so they can get in and out. The diner is designed to look like an igloo, so the cook/owner would never have to take more than three steps from the grill to the counter to the cash register.   photo of a check

Next: Fall of the Diner

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