Roadside America

Worcester Diners

If New Jersey is the diner capital of the U.S., Massachusetts is a close second. Thomas Buckley began to sell lunch wagons in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1887. Charles Palmer, who patented a “Night-Lunch Wagon” in 1893, also operated in Worcester. The Worcester Lunch Car Company, founded by Philip H. Duprey and Grenville Stoddard, was an iconic diner manufacturer from 1906 to 1957. It produced 651 diners, many of which still exist today. Several are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Worcester diners look more like railroad cars than their newer counterparts, with smooth metal exteriors and wooden interiors. Most have a distinctive barrel roof and a row of large windows, with entrances at either end.

The Miss Worcester Diner, 302 Southbridge Street in Worcester, Massachusetts, is a 1948 Worcester (#812) built for Dino Soteropoulos. It sits across the street from the old Worcester Lunch Car Company factory and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. This classic diner is a local favorite.

Originally owned by Robert and Richard Whitney in Orange, Massachusetts and known as Whit’s Diner, Lloyd’s Diner at 184A Fountain Street in Framingham, Massachusetts is a 1942 Worcester (#783). Richard and Joan Lloyd purchased it in 1990, renamed it Lloyd’s, and moved it to its current location. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Public House Diner, at 5573 Woodstock Road in Quechee, Vermont, is a 1946 Worcester (#787). It was originally the Ross Diner located in Holyoke, Massachusetts. It closed in 1990 and moved to New Hampshire for a few short years before ultimately coming to Vermont. Since then, it’s had a succession of names, including the Yankee Diner, Farmer’s Diner, and the Quechee Diner. It reopened as the Public House in 2017 at Quechee Gorge Village, a tourist’s trap outside Quechee State Park.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Chelsea Royal Diner, at 487 Marlboro Road in West Brattleboro, Vermont, is a 1939 Worcester Diner (#736) moved here from downtown West Brattleboro. Its 1958 sign was discovered in a New Hampshire barn and restored in 1999. The staff takes pride in its locally sourced food and homemade “Royal Madness” Ice Cream.

Photo by Michael Kleen

Miss Florence Diner, at 99 Main Street in Florence, Massachusetts, is a 1941 Worcester and originally owned by Maurice and Pauline Alexander. They expanded it into an ‘L’ shape as early as 1949. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. You can’t help loving this audacious sign, which can been seen down Main Street in either direction.

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