When Restaurants Had Personality

The concept of Great American Road Trip flourished during the mid-20th century, when prosperity allowed for vacations, highways crisscrossed the US, and the interstate had yet to bypass towns. The hospitality industry ballooned in small towns, and local Mom and Pop restaurants were everywhere. Each put their best food forward in their own way, while offering non-specialized menus full of familiar recipes everyone knew.  

Once upon a time, American roads were dotted with individually owned diners offering a wonderful diversity of eating choices – nearly always proclaiming the food is “baked on premises”.  Then two things happened which spelled the end: (1) the arrival of super cheap, super quick fast food franchises and (2) the arrival of interstate highways.  The diners lined up along roads actually within the towns and provinces; whereas, the new breed of fast food conglomerated around interstate exits – often not tied to the towns at all.

Although, the friendly roadside diner is largely a thing of the past, we still have the pictures and postcards of their heyday.  Here is a look at the tip of the iceberg, just a small sampling (13) of the many great roadside diners of yesteryear.  (Note: I didn’t choose the most crazy and outlandish, but rather a sampling of the average, to get you in the zone of what they were really like, not just their extreme examples.)  Enjoy.

Take a look at, and read about, some distinctive restaurants of the 1940s-'60s at Flashbak.  -Thanks, Tim!

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Hurrah for a dull and impersonal world where the employee could just as well be a robot and the food something that's produced by one. Actually... it is.
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