No one over 30 needs an introduction to these places; we have dim smoky memories of road trips with the folks, stopping at odd cafes and coffee shops en route to some distant destination. Since it was a trip, we usually got to order hamburgers. French fries. So did the adults, probably. That's what these places did best.
Anyone under 30 may recognize a few of these places, or find an analog to a local hash house. But people who came to these places in the post-chain, post-franchise, post-"Diner" movie era are cursed: they approach these places with Irony and Context, and see them as Symbols, pieces of History. They're just restaurants. But the pedestrian artifacts of yesterday take on extra meaning when the pedestrian artifacts of the present tend to suck. These are ordinary places, and it says a lot about modern times that they sometimes seem so extraordinary. When exactly did we pass the anti-beauty act, anyway?
That said, here are some postcards to be enjoyed with or without irony, or context. Off you go. Enjoy.
Exteriors start here. Interiors commence right about . . . here.
-- Lileks Oct. 08