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The Summit Diner in Summit, New Jersey, is a prototypical "rail car" style diner. Built by the O'Mahony Company in 1938, it is the oldest operating diner in the state.[1]
Collin's Diner, North Canaan, Connecticut, USA

The Jerry O'Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, whose motto was "In our line, We lead the world", was said to have produced 2,000 diners from 1917 to 1941, and became the largest manufacturer of its period.[2] The roadside diners referred to are long, narrow, primarily metal buildings, prefabricated in a factory, and trucked to the location. They resemble and are often confused with actual railroad rolling stock, but these buildings were never railroad cars.


Jerry O'Mahony (1890–1969) of Bayonne, New Jersey, is credited by some to have made the first "diner".[3] In 1912, the first lunch wagon built by Jerry and Daniel O'Mahoney and John Hanf was bought for $800 by restaurant entrepreneur Michael Griffin and operated at Transfer Station in Hudson County, New Jersey. The wagon helped spark New Jersey's golden age of diner manufacturing, which in turn made the state the diner capital of the world.[4]

The Jerry O'Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, produced 2,000 diners from 1917 to 1952. Only approximately twenty[5] are still in existence throughout the United States and in certain parts of the world.

In the U.S., the northernmost is Martha's Diner in Coventry, Vermont. The Miss Wakefield, originally Pat & Bob's in Albany, New York, was built in 1949, rescued from a junkyard there, and trucked to a new home in Sanbornville, New Hampshire.[6] The Summit Diner, a 1938 model, is located in Summit, New Jersey. The oldest Southern diner (non–stainless steel style) is believed to be the Hillsville Diner in Carroll County, Virginia. The Triangle Diner,[7] a 1948 stainless steel O'Mahony original model, is located in the old town of Winchester, Virginia, and is being historically restored to how it appeared in 1948. The Triangle Diner is the oldest stainless steel style O'Mahony diner in Virginia. In 2007 Tommy's Deluxe Diner was moved from Middletown, Rhode Island, to Oakley, Utah, where it opened as the Road Island Diner. One of the original ones displayed at the 1939 New York World's Fair, made by Paramount Diners, is still in operation as the White Mana in Jersey City.[8][9][10] Also in Jersey City is the Miss America, a 1942 classic stainless steel model, located next to the New Jersey City University campus.[11] The Shawmut Diner of New Bedford, Massachusetts was donated by its owners to the Bristol County House of Corrections in Dartmouth, Massachusetts and will serve as a training facility for inmates.[12] TJ's (formerly the Point Diner) in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania is a 1940 O’Mahony diner[13], although its exterior has been renovated and no longer has the stainless metal-look exterior. The diner is located within the Tamaqua Historic District.

Overseas examples include the former Murphy's Diner from Cambridge, Massachusetts, operating as the '50s American Diner in Swadlincote, South Derbyshire in the United Kingdom, and The Excellent Diner, a 1947 model, previously located in Westfield, N.J., closed in 1995, was shipped to Germany and is now at Disneyland Paris as Café des Cascadeurs, (Café of the Stuntmen).

Pre-war streamline moderne style dinersEdit

There are at least 26 pre-war Streamline Moderne style O'Mahony diners (diners built between 1932 and 1941) still in existence.[14] These include the smaller 50' × 10' Mickey's Diner serial number 1067 in Saint Paul, Minnesota, which is one of several listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 40' × 16' Collin's Diner[15] serial number 1103 in North Canaan, Connecticut, and the 1938 Summit Diner in Summit, N.J. The Road Island Diner (O'Mahony Dining Car #1107) was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service on August 21, 2009.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "N.J's best diner: What to eat at the oldest diner in the state". December 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  2. ^ Offitzer, Karen (2002). Diners. New York, NY: New Line Books. p. 46. ISBN 1-57717-052-0.
  3. ^ p.16 Westergaard, Barbara A Guide to New Jersey Rutgers University Press
  4. ^ Gabriele, Michael C. (May 2018). "Jersey Gems". New Jersey Monthly. p. 43.
  5. ^ "Loading..." Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Security Check Required". Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  8. ^ "White Mana Diner". Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  9. ^ "Diners - Various, 1920s & 1930s". Art and Archtitecture of New Jersey. Stockton University. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ Patrick Kevin (July 21, 2010). "Endangered New Jersey Diners". Retrieved May 23, 2011.
  11. ^ "Miss America Diner". Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  12. ^ "Shawmut Diner donated to Bristol County House of Corrections for job training". Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  13. ^ Butko, B., Patrick, K., Weaver, K.R., Breuil, J., Diners of Pennsylvania, Stackpole – Mechanicsburg (2nd. Ed. 2011), p.187
  14. ^ "A classic Jersey diner comes to an end - Di Ionno". March 2015. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  15. ^ "Welcome to the Collin's Diner". Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  16. ^ Garbin, Randy. "RoadsideOnline Diner Finder". Coffee Cup Media. Retrieved March 28, 2011.