I love diners. I don’t mean old 70’s suburban or roadside buildings that serve burgers and gravy and call themselves a diner. I mean buildings built in a factory like a train car and are placed on a street corner in Main Street USA. These stainless steel and aluminum wonders simply ARE diners even if they are a bit beat up, worn and unusual. They’re not trying to be anything but what they are and what you see is exactly what they are. Greasy spoon, boomerang laminate, metal edged counters and coffee…endless coffee.
I have memories from my childhood of diners and I’ve been in many in the years that followed. I have been in many diner-wannabes too, but they generally disappoint. It’s not that they can’t sell good food. It’s not that they don’t sell good food. They’re just not a diner. Perhaps it would be better if they said they were something else.
A recent trip caused me to ponder this as my wife and I found a diner through serendipity and then returned the next day to share it with our son. Breakfast two days in a row at the same place – perfect.
The long drive home lent time to think.
Why is this important? Good gravy or good crispy bacon is all we’re looking for right? Not really (and we do generally eat quite healthy). We want the real experience and all of the components come together to give that whether it’s a school, a house or even a diner.
If eating to you is merely getting lots calories in to stop the hunger pains, then you’ll never follow my logic.
I am an architect. No, a seriously committed one that has rose colored glasses and an idealism that gets in the way. I think about things…all things. I think about architecture a lot and I think about what it ought to be or even wants to be. I think about my work and I want it to be based on my experiences such as these so that others can have the same.
It wants to be authentic.
One of the reasons I discovered my distaste for certain materials and certain buildings and certain assemblies, typically comes back to this quality. People know this. They often can’t identify it specifically, but they know it when it happens.
So what does that mean? What does it mean to you? To be honest, I don’t know and I’m not sure I want to fully define it for everyone.
I know that what I saw on the outside of this diner was the same on the inside. Essentially everything inside was original from when it came off of the factory line in 1952. The series of owners appreciated it enough to keep it real, keep it original, keep it authentic. Even the servers, who did a great job, contributed to the experience. In fact, one server called the owner out (in his stained white apron) to share the story with us.
The food was really good too.
OK…at Cormac‘s suggestion, I couldn’t resist. Tap your toes and “go and grab yourself a cheeseburger at the little gem diner off the six niner.”