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. It looks like a Silk City or Kullman model with expanded dining area, but is probably more modern (possibly a Paramount).
I have fond memories of Wisconsin Dells. My family vacationed there when I was a kid in the late ’80s, early ’90s. It’s changed significantly since then. All I remember is the boat tours, the American Indians shows, and the main strip with a wax museum and other interesting little tourist shops. Very similar to Lake George, New York. Today, it’s the “Waterpark Capitol of the World,” with several large amusement parks, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, go cart tracks, and more.
A local settler named Leroy Gates started offering boat tours of scenic bluffs and rock formations along the Wisconsin River as early as 1856. Photographer H. H. Bennett later popularized the dells in photos and stereoscopic prints distributed around the country. His studio is now a museum. In 1952 “Tommy Bartlett’s Thrill Show” made the area its home, and tourism really took off. Many resorts cropped up in neighboring Lake Delton.
It’s nice to see families still enjoy Wisconsin Dells, but no trip is complete without an obligatory mess of flapjacks at Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty, 411 State Hwy 13. They’ve been feeding tourists North Woods meals for almost 60 years.
Diners often change names, ownership, and locations, and this 1958 Silk City, #5808, at 523 Main Street in Canastota, New York, is no exception. According to Roadsidearch.com, this used to be called the Pelican Diner and was located in North Syracuse. It then moved to Canastota and became known as the Canastota Dinerant. After that, it was Anne Marie’s Family Diner, which closed in 2007. According to the Oneida Daily Dispatch, Dick and Roberta Taubman came out of retirement to open Dick and Bert’s Hometown Diner in 2009. In 2015, Rollin and Kim Reed bought it and opened The Raider Grill & Griddle, but closed after only two years.
Sally’s Diner, at 25 Peninsula Drive in Erie, Pennsylvania, at the entrance to Presque Isle State Park, is part of Sara’s Restaurant and campground. It is a 1957 Mountain View, #522. Like many diners, it served under several names and in several locations. It was originally Serro’s Diner in Norwin, Pennsylvania, then Morgan’s Eastland Diner in Butler, Pennsylvania. Finally, Sean Candela purchased it in 2003, moved it to Erie, and named it after his mother. It’s currently used as a souvenir shop and extra seating for the nearby restaurant.
Swan Street Diner, at 700 Swan Street in Buffalo, New York, is a 1937 Sterling Company diner car, #397. It was originally located in Newark, New York, and successively known as Scofield’s Diner, the Newark Diner, and McBride’s Newark Diner, owned by Paul Scolfield, John Reynolds, and Jim McBride respectively. Scolfield also ran an automotive garage. The diner moved to Ohio in 2013, then to Buffalo, New York for restoration.
The new owners have done an incredible job restoring this historic diner. It sits in Buffalo’s Larkinville neighborhood, once home to the Larkin Soap Company (closed in 2013). The Swan Street Diner serves food and drinks on the last plates and mugs manufactured by the company. It opened in October 2017 and is a wonderful and unique diner experience.