Citing the Modern Diner's (at 364 East Ave, Pawtucket) Lobster Benedict as possibly the most evolved diner food, he explained how a diner's offerings and overall look tend to mirror the trends of American culture. As American fashions change, so does the diner aesthetic. The iconic streamlining of the 30s and 40s was the diner standard for decades. But with the influx of fast-food and chain restaurants in the 50s and 60s, the traditional car fell out of style. Chrome and enamel paneling was replaced by wood siding, and the futuristic surfaces were covered with colonial d√©cor like wagon wheels and faux gas lamps. In the 1980s, "modernizing your diner meant putting bricks up the side of it," said Gutman. Ten years later, he said, America saw a revival of "diners that look like diners." In their second evolution, however, diners were built as freestanding buildings rather than traditional cars--large dining rooms with small counters. "I don't think the renaissance of the diner is nostalgia," he began, but he recanted, as he remembered the PT Cruiser and VW New Beetle that emerged towards the end of the nineties. Rhode Island has its own mass-produced neo-diners: a Denny's "Classic Diner" franchise in Warwick, and a similarly styled chain known as "Scramblers" in Cranston.
Today, American diners have expanded their once barebones menus to cater to changing palates without disregarding the original vision of a good n' cheap eatery. Gutman's favorite diner food? "Straight-up poached eggs on whole wheat toast. Eat 'em day and night."
ALEXANDER WEST GUERRERO RISD '09 wants corned beef hash, two eggs over easy, rye toast and homefries well-done and EVE ESSEX RISD '09 will have the triple-decker blueberry pancakes.