Demolition plans were announced and a construction fence was erected a few months after the property sold. But this columnist, who chairs the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, has launched an initiative to give the Shalimar Diner a new lease on life.
The asking price for the classic structure is “zero dollars,” although a party of interest and with the necessary resources must come forward within approximately 30 days with a plan to transport the diner to a new location.
As a result of rising real estate values and increasing rents, may freestanding diners have been forced to close and become an “endangered species.” The Shalimar Diner was one of numerous freestanding Greek-American family diners dotting the Northeast.
Many of these classic diners were manufactured to move, and the Shalimar Diner was no different. It was prefabricated by the popular Kullman Dining Car Company and delivered on a flatbed truck to its current location. In 1974, the Shalimar was officially opened by the Karayiannis family on leased property.
The diner’s classic look has made it attractive to television and movie productions. It can be seen in the CBS drama “Blue Bloods” and Martin Scorsese’s 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” In that film, the Shalimar served as a stand-in for the Kacandes Diner.
Moving the Shalimar is not without precedent, as this columnist has brokered successful deals to rescue other classic diners. The Moondance Diner in Manhattan was transported by truck to Wyoming in 2007, and the Cheyenne Diner (one of several original Market Diners) was sent to Alabama in 2009.
Diners originated in the 19th century. In 1872, Walter Scott sold food from a horse-drawn wagon to Providence Journal employees in Rhode Island. “Lunch wagons” were in commercial production by Thomas Buckley in Worcester beginning in 1887.
In 1893, the first patent for a diner was granted to Charles Palmer, which he called a “Night-Lunch Wagon.”
Stationary diners were prefabricated by specific manufacturers and featured pre-assembled components that allowed operators to establish their business quickly. The first stationary diner was erected by Jerry and Daniel O’Mahony in 1912 in Union City, New Jersey.
Most classic freestanding diners in the early 20th century placed a major emphasis on the counter, and featured a barrel roof and a railway car-inspired façade with a band of windows.
In the 1930s, most were designed in a streamlined Art Deco/Moderne style with stainless steel, terrazzo, porcelain enamel, and glass block. They remained small in size.
Eventually, they were designed in a Mediterranean style and were bigger to accommodate more patrons. Diners designed in the early 2000s feel closer to the size of restaurants, with less of a focus on the counter.
A party who is interested in receiving the classic Shalimar Diner for free and transporting it with the help of a highly successful diner rigger should email firstname.lastname@example.org.