Category Archives: diners

Find of the day: Moody’s Diner cookbook

moodysdinerbookAt a weekend flea market I found a copy of What’s Cooking at Moody’s Diner, a book of recipes and reminiscences published in 1989 (it was revised and redesigned in 2003). Although it is neither rare nor valuable in monetary terms, I consider it a “find” because of how I happened upon it when I was about to give up.

moodysdinercolor2The Route 1 diner in Waldoboro ME dates back to a small food stand built and operated by Percy Moody and his family in the early 1930s. After many additions and updates it is still going strong today as a substantial restaurant with a menu probably far more diverse than it was in the beginning, judging from a sample 1930s lunch menu included in the book. Then, hungry travelers on a budget might select plain sandwiches such as Bread & Butter (5c) or Fried Egg (10c). If they wanted something grander they could have Lobster or Crabmeat sandwiches at 20c apiece. Toasted sandwiches cost an additional 5c.

moody'sdinerjune1941Many people associate diners with prefab structures of stainless steel but Moody’s Diner is an example of a vernacular design constructed of wood. Before it was moved to Route 1, the initial Moody food stand accompanied Moody’s Cabins, a few of which had been built in 1927, a year when many a farmer in or near a vacation area decided to try to capture some of the tourist trade speeding by in their newly purchased cars. No doubt a roadside business helped offset some of the effects of the Depression.

The 1989 edition of What’s Cooking at Moody’s Diner, by Nancy Moody Genthner and edited by Kerry Leichtman, contains a wealth of recipes for “home-made” style dishes, desserts, salads, and breads. Twenty-five casserole recipes, many using canned soup, stand out for being far removed from routine restaurant fare.

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A Valentine with soul (food)

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

As we drove by this place in Colorado Springs last month I realized I was looking at a vintage Valentine diner, a prefabricated building type made in Wichita, Kansas. Later I went back and took the photo of it shown here.

One thing about diners, they have so many fans that they have been well documented. On the Valentine diner website, I learned that this was a Little Chef model produced in the late 1950s. This particular Little Chef has had many owners and proprietors since its debut in Colorado Springs.

ValentinelittleChef

In my postcard collection I have another Valentine diner, Paul’s Café in Smith Center KS, operated in the 1950s by Paul Manchester and his wife Gleam. The section on the left appears to be Valentine’s late 1940s-early 1950s Economy Sandwich Shop model which contained a counter with only eight stools. It was evidently expanded with a dining room section, shifting the entrance to the red door in the middle. The awnings probably were not original to the design.

ValentinePaul'sCafe

Subsequently Paul’s Cafe was remodeled in buff brick, losing its smooth, slick metal factory-built look but perhaps becoming more functional.  A similar fate has befallen many a diner.

© Jan Whitaker, 2014

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