With Fourth of July upon us, many denizens of the Garden State and America will hit the road for a deserved vacation, a weekend trip to the shore, or a visit to someplace novel and new. Along the way, they’re likely to pull off the road and find a place to eat. For many famished vacationers and day trippers, that establishment will be a diner.
Diners are integral to the identity of New Jersey. Arguably, diners–real diners with all-day breakfast, twenty-four-seven service, and a menu as thick as the Long Island phone book–shape and define America’s cultural and culinary identity itself.
In The History of Diners in New Jersey, Michael C. Gabriele wrote:
“Diners host the ultimate American egalitarian dining experience for saints and sinners. No reservations are required, and none are accepted. There’s a both and a stool for everyone. A diner is a place where wayfarers from any socioeconomic demographic can walk in and grab a bite to eat.”
Gabriele characterized diners are leveling institutions, where guests are treated equally and served dishes from the same menu. A boisterous, salty longshoreman might sit alongside a man wearing a pin-striped suit and engrossed in the Wall Street Journal. A gaggle of teenagers might shriek in a corner booth. A family might relish a lumberjack breakfast after Sunday mass.