Roadside America

Diners Through the Decades: 2000s

Spurred on by 1950s nostalgia and TV shows like Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (2007-present), diners made a cultural comeback in the 2000s. These were fixed structures (built on site) with large dining rooms and lots of stainless steel, Art Deco, Populux, and Doo Wop design elements, and neon lights. They were predominantly built by DeRaffele Manufacturing in New Rochelle, New York.

Diners in the 2000s were built to resemble 1950s diners while catering to contemporary tastes. Unlike diners of the past, many chefs crafted their menus around organic or healthy eating. Interior decor often includes vintage records, jukeboxes, pictures of 1950s cars and old diners, and cardboard cutouts of 1950s waitresses.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Gus’s Diner, at 630 N. Westmount Drive in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, is filled with 1950s nostalgia. It has a wonderful stainless steel exterior and has been run by the current owners since 2008. The building was built in 2005, but I haven’t been able to determine the manufacturer.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Red Line Diner, at 588 U.S. Route 9 (off I-84) in Fishkill, New York, is a DeRaffele model owned by the Vanikiotis Group. It’s become a local favorite since opening in 2012 and is marketed as a healthier alternative to typical diner fare.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Ambrosia Diner, at 518 Aviation Road in Queensbury, New York, opened off I-87 Exit 19 in 2012. It is a DeRaffele model, owned by Dennis and Robert Pilarinos, who also own several other diners in the area, including Capital City Diner in Albany. It’s rumored to have heated sidewalks!

The similar exteriors and front entrances leads me to believe Gus’s Diner is also a DeRaffele. For every new diner, DeRaffele does three renovations of existing diners. DeRaffele has been making diners since 1933, making it one of the longest-lasting diner manufacturers in the country.

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