Diner

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Diners are an favorite pop-culture memory for many.
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Diners are an favorite pop-culture memory for many.
A diner is a prefabricated restaurant building characteristic of North America.
Contents

History

Diners developed from mobile catering wagons. Like the catering wagon, a diner allowed one to set up a food service business quickly using preassembled equipment. The first manufactured dining wagons with seating appeared in the late 19th century, serving busy downtown locations without the need to buy expensive real estate. Until the Great Depression, most diner manufacturers and their customers were located in the Northeast. With the rise of the automobile, diner manufacturers produced more fixed-foundation buildings.

Diner manufacturing suffered with other industries in the Depression. After World War II, as the economy returned to civilian production and the suburbs boomed, diners were an attractive self-employment opportunity. During this period diners spread beyond their original market to the Midwest.

Missing image
Diner1.jpg
Inside a diner

Architecture

Like a mobile home, a diner is narrow and elongated to allow transportation on a flatbed trailer. A service counter dominates the interior, with a preparation area against the back wall and floor-mounted stools for the customers in front. Larger models may have a row of booths against the front wall and at the ends. The decor varied over time. Diners of the 1920s1940s feature Art Deco elements or copy the appearance of rail dining cars (Some are, in fact, refurbished rail cars). Those of the 1950s use stainless steel panels and glass block trim.

Diners as Americana

In movies and television, diners (along with soda fountains) symbolize the period of prosperity and optimism in the United States of the 1950s. They are shown as the place where teenagers meet after school, and an essential part of a date. The diner's cultural influence continues today. Many non-manufactured restaurants (including franchises like Denny's) have copied the look of 1950s diners for nostalgic appeal, while Waffle House uses an interior layout derived from the diner.

Manufacturers

References

  • Michael Karl Witzel (1998) The American Diner MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 0760301107

See also

External links

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