1950's Valentine Diner in today's market?

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FiveAcreFoods
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1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 10/30/12 1:51 PM
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I've had the idea in my head for awhile to do a short-order grill with a heavy retro/nostalgia theme based on the old pre-fab Valentine Diners of the '40s and '50s. My plan would be to either buy and refurbish an original 10 stool diner, or more likely, to re-create one from scratch.  I realize certain concessions would have to be made to meet modern health codes, such as providing a public restroom, but that could be accomplished by simply expanding inconspicuously off the back of the structure, which would allow me to expand the kitchen and storage areas as well.
Menu would be kept simple and fairly true to the era: simple, quick comfort food, again with certain concessions for modern times. I understand these diners were originally set up to be ran efficiently by a staff of two to three (server and cook or 2 servers , 1 cook) which would seem ideal. 
Looking for thoughts or comments . . .
 




Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 10/30/12 4:36 PM
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I'd be there!
 
But make sure you get a snack pak Kellogg's display plus one of these:
 

 

 
Just don't go overboard in trying to recreate the fifties image with all the retro tinplate signs that are so commonplace in bars and restaurants these days. If you try too hard, you won't be a diner. You'll be a parody of a diner. And you really do have to keep the prices at diner levels or once again you'll just be a faux diner trying to pass itself off as the real thing.
 


Dr of BBQ
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 10/30/12 4:42 PM
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There is a company that builds them already. They come in 3 pieces and are wielded together on your location. They are all stainless steel - chrome and Health Code compliant. I think they run about $400,000.00. I don't remember the name of the company that builds them but you can search it on line. A guy I know bought one and had it built on site about 30 miles from here. Bob (the friend) had run the Hardee's stores in Springfield (8) and took them to the highest profit stores in the country. He kicked McDonald's ass every year for 15 or more years. He set records every year in at least one or more locations in a town with only a 100,000 population. His managers were making $80,000 plus when he sold the Springfield locations.When he left Hardee's he built the unit above and within 14 months went bankrupt. They cut the building back into sections and moved it to another town after the auction. Bob now sells real-estate.
<message edited by Dr of BBQ on Tue, 10/30/12 4:53 PM>

FiveAcreFoods
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 10/30/12 7:31 PM
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Thanks Doc, for the advice.  I  can't help but wonder if that $400,000.00 note hanging over his head might have been a big factor in his failure. You gotta sling a lot of hash to meet those kinds of payments. Right off the bat he's at a huge disadvantage. I've priced what it would take to build one myself from scratch, and it wouldn't even approach a tenth of that. I'm talking $20-25k tops for the structure, not counting fixtures. It's basically just a couple of trailers. That might not be all stainless, but it would be metal framing with an aluminum outer skin, and nice interior - not skimping on appointments at all, just not going hog wild. The real beauty of a structure like this is if one location doesn't work for you, it won't cost an arm and a leg to try it somewhere else.
 
And Hepcat . . . No, I'd be careful not to fall into parody. I've visited enough cheesy attempts at nostalgic diners to know what works and what doesn't.  I like the soup rack too.

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 1:42 PM
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Dr of BBQ


There is a company that builds them already. They come in 3 pieces and are wielded together on your location. They are all stainless steel - chrome and Health Code compliant. I think they run about $400,000.00.

 
That's an outrageously high price for a prefab structure! You can buy a very decent house in most part of the United States for $400,000. Moreover, the $400,000 for the prefab doesn't even include a lot, which can account for half the price of a house in some places. Furthermore, there's no foundation to be dug, nor is there any time consuming brickwork! Sure, there are specialized fryers, freezers and other restaurant equipment, but there are no luxury bathroom fixtures, granite countertops, hardwood kitchen cabinets or floors. The profit margin on these things is probably well over $300,000!
 

 
FiveAcreFoods
And Hepcat . . . No, I'd be careful not to fall into parody. I've visited enough cheesy attempts at nostalgic diners to know what works and what doesn't. I like the soup rack too.


Good! You should have cardboard signs for Coke and hamburgers, Coke and hot dogs, Coke and grill cheese, pie with ice cream, milkshakes, sundaes, banana splits, etc. but they should be advertisements for products you serve, and without any prices of course:
 
 
 
 
 
 


And only retro enough, say seventies vintage looking as opposed to twenties.  Your local Coca-Cola franchisee would probably have all kinds for you.
 

<message edited by Hepcat on Sat, 11/3/12 3:34 PM>

Dr of BBQ
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 2:43 PM
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Hepcat I suppose you've see one of these units? No? Sorry but you don't have a clue. There most certainly is a foundation, sewers dug, power lines run underground and lets not forget water, telephone asphalt parking, drive up lanes, speaker systems, all heavy duty stainless steel walls, ceiling, overhead replica ceiling fans Walk in coolers (2) walk in Freezers (2). Three grill stations and 3 fry stations all with ansul systems. Interior stainless steel counters and custom built in jukebox at every booth and the list goes on and on. you said Cheesey NO way!They are first class from the front door to the big inclosed block garbage  area.
<message edited by Dr of BBQ on Fri, 11/2/12 7:40 PM>

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 2:45 PM
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Not enough seats to make a living and not set up right for take out.

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 4:46 PM
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Dr of BBQ
Hepcat I suppose you've see one of these units? No? Sorry but you don't have a clue.

 
So what else is new? 
 
Dr of BBQ
Cheesey NO way!They are first class from the front door to the big inclosed block garbage  area.

 
I didn't say they were cheesy. I just said they were way too expensive for any kind of economic value proposition.


Dr of BBQ
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 5:08 PM
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Your an idiot you don't think I can read that you edited your post?

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 5:29 PM
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Dr of BBQ


Your an idiot you don't think I can read that you edited your post?
 

Actually I wasn't thinking about you at all. Why would I?
 
I do, however, have a compulsion to edit my posts. I'm a perfectionist and I rarely get them absolutely right the first time. I leave out capitals, commas, etc.
 
What I don't have though is a compulsion to immediately call absolute strangers on discussion forums idiots and question their integrity. Since you, however, do, I'll remember that. Oh, and by the way, it's "You're" in this case, and the Y in "you" should be capitalized. I'm surprised that someone as intelligent as yourself would make such an error.
<message edited by Hepcat on Fri, 11/2/12 5:33 PM>

Dr of BBQ
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 5:42 PM
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You just proved my point.

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 5:57 PM
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And I understand none would be points of etiquette in your case.
 
 
 
 

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Fri, 11/2/12 7:16 PM
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Lol, What's up Doc.

Dr of BBQ
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 7:00 AM
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Ice Cream Man


Lol, What's up Doc.

 
Welcome back Ice Cream Man how did your season go?
<message edited by Dr of BBQ on Mon, 11/5/12 7:01 AM>

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 9:28 AM
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We had a good year, 2010 was the best down in 11 but back up in 12. What would being in business be without ups and downs. Just up the street the 68 year old Dairy Bar just closed for good, so next year I will have one less competitor. I'll be thinking about my friends here freezing their butts off this winter while I'm relaxing for the winter. The end of Jan we are heading to Cleveland, Nashville, Memphis and on to Arizona. We'll see how things go on the way home, I would love to stop in Springfield around the end of Feb to see what all the fuss is about.

Dr of BBQ
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 9:58 AM
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Feb is the coldest month here in Springfield are you sure you want to drive thru Illinois in our most prone to have a major snow storm month?
 
Anyway glad you had a good season, we have lost a lot of regulars here on the Pro side and from what I'm hearing a lot on the entire road food site. Lots of the older more experienced  posters just gave up the fight. And that's sad. But again glad your back.

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 12:11 PM
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Last Feb we went to Nashville, Memphis, Orlando and back to Memphis, we were going to go to Texas instead of Orlando but there was a storm in east Texas that wouldn't leave. We never saw snow until we got home and that was only a dusting. We don't get much snow anymore I think it's just the east coast and that's just the odd storm. I used to drive through 10 a year that you couldn't see your hood. This year we want to go back to Nashville and then swing west, not really interested in Memphis but it is in our way, but depending on the weather we might head south to Texas instead. What amazed me last year was the lack of traffic and you could get tickets for anything you wanted on the day of the event. Hotels and motels were almost empty. I have noticed the board isn't a lively as it used to be but still a good place, doesn't seem to have a social component unless you go in for the food tours. I hope the OP doesn't mind us talking here, I do love those old Diners would love to have one sitting beside the Ice Cream Store.  

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 1:50 PM
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Ice Cream Man
 

Just up the street the 68 year old Dairy Bar just closed for good, so next year I will have one less competitor.

 
Sad for the Dairy Bar's customers but good for you! Whereabouts are you located?
 



FiveAcreFoods
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 2:14 PM
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Ice Cream Man


Not enough seats to make a living and not set up right for take out.

 
That's the one part of the equation I was really unsure of.  I really like the idea of only 10 seats for space and simplicity considerations, but the numbers didn't show good for profits unless you could pack the place at least five hours a day. Not likely.
In examining other pre-fab diners from the era, I've noticed a popular layout which seats about 40 (12 at the counter, 28 in booths) in a very efficient use of space.  It would almost double the size of the structure, but we're still talking a very small building (still around 1000 sq ft overall) which I still believe could be constructed for $25k -$30K, if I build it myself.

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 2:37 PM
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In the right place with excellent food you can make money with no seats. 10 seats one person very little take out you bought yourself a job. 20 seats 2 or 3 people lots of take out you might just get a day off. 10 seats inside plus outdoor seating is seasonal. Just depends what you want. I think most here want just above buy yourself a job. What bothers me most about new carts,trailers or restaurants is the idea that if I'm cheaper I can outsell the existing places instead of being the best at what you do. Before you buy know your food and market. Maybe you will survive.

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 2:38 PM
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Erin

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 3:56 PM
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FiveAcreFoods
In examining other pre-fab diners from the era, I've noticed a popular layout which seats about 40 (12 at the counter, 28 in booths) in a very efficient use of space.  It would almost double the size of the structure, but we're still talking a very small building (still around 1000 sq ft overall) which I still believe could be constructed for $25k -$30K, if I build it myself.

 
I think you might be overoptimistic with that estimate.
 

 
 


Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 3:58 PM
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Ice Cream Man


Erin

 
Oh no! It wasn't Steen's Dairy Bar that closed, was it? 
 


Steen's was a beloved local institution since the atmosphere was just right for a small town diner.
 

 

 

<message edited by Hepcat on Tue, 11/6/12 11:30 AM>

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 5:44 PM
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Yes it was. The Dairy part left 2 or 3 years ago now the Bar is gone.
Stoney Creek closed at the end of Sept.

FiveAcreFoods
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 11:15 PM
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Hepcat

FiveAcreFoods
In examining other pre-fab diners from the era, I've noticed a popular layout which seats about 40 (12 at the counter, 28 in booths) in a very efficient use of space.  It would almost double the size of the structure, but we're still talking a very small building (still around 1000 sq ft overall) which I still believe could be constructed for $25k -$30K, if I build it myself.


I think you might be overoptimistic with that estimate.


 
Actually, Hepcat, if anything, I think I'm being generous with that figure. Seriously.  I have priced materials pretty thoroughly. Not that much there.  I plan to build it myself in my backyard, maybe with the help of a few friends as needed for the big stuff, so therefore I won't have any labor costs to factor in. I can handle all construction, including wiring, & plumbing, myself.  I'm sort of a jack-of-all-trades that way. It will essentially be built as two portable buildings, 14' wide by 40' and 30' long which can be hauled on flatbed and assembled together at the final location, just like they did it back in the day.

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Mon, 11/5/12 11:22 PM
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Ice Cream Man
Yes it was. The Dairy part left 2 or 3 years ago now the Bar is gone.

Stoney Creek closed at the end of Sept.

 
Agggghhhhh! Those were two of the dairy owned ice cream bars/soda fountains/luncheonettes I was going to include in a thread I was about to start on the subject!
 

 
Hopefully you carry Steen's, Stoney Creek or some other local Ontario dairy's ice cream brand rather than that of some multinational such as Nestle's or Breyer's.
 

 
 
<message edited by Hepcat on Mon, 11/5/12 11:29 PM>

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 11/6/12 12:25 AM
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There were only three good ones, Stoney Creek, Kawartha and Maypole.
We sell Maypole, have for 12 years.

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 11/6/12 11:24 AM
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Maypole I understand is a Stoney Creek brand.
 
Ice Cream Man


There were only three good ones, Stoney Creek, Kawartha and Maypole.


Hewitt's Dairy operates an ice cream bar/diner near Hagersville and Shaw's Dairy operates an ice cream bar just north of Port Stanley but I don't believe either company distributes ice cream as far as Erin.
 

<message edited by Hepcat on Tue, 11/6/12 11:32 AM>

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 11/6/12 12:57 PM
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They do I've tried them all.
Maypoles Ice Cream is as good as it comes and they have 60 flavours. I carry 24, most others I could only get 15 or so that would sell here. When I say sell here, they sell flavours in Toronto that don't sell here. I was selling Orange Pineapple but if they don't sell 500 a year they quit making it. I would sell a hundred a year, they have over a hundred Ice Cream stores, not many others could sell it in their markets. 

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 11/6/12 1:00 PM
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Come see me in April and I'll fatten you up.

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 11/6/12 1:20 PM
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Ice Cream Man
Come see me in April and I'll fatten you up.

Is yours the trailer on the north side of the street near the millstream just west of where Steen's Dairy Bar was located?
 

 
 
<message edited by Hepcat on Tue, 11/6/12 1:24 PM>

Ice Cream Man
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 11/6/12 2:28 PM
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http://www.vpike.com/?e=43.768388,-80.061469:225:40%20MAin%20Street%20Erin%20Canada
 
This is an old picture, been painted, and different tenants.
I own the building, makes for cheap rent.

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Tue, 11/6/12 5:25 PM
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FiveAcreFoods
And Hepcat . . . No, I'd be careful not to fall into parody. I've visited enough cheesy attempts at nostalgic diners to know what works and what doesn't.  I like the soup rack too.

 
You'll need a Kellogg's Snack Pack display as well if you want to be a proper diner. If you can't find an old-fashioned metal one like the one featured in the first picture, plastic ones continue to be sold these days:
 

 

 

 

Hepcat
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Re:1950's Valentine Diner in today's market? - Sun, 12/16/12 8:03 PM
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Here's a classic example of fifties/sixties diner architecture just a few blocks from my house at Kingston Road and Main Street: