The owner of Diversified Diners, Steve Harwin, bought his 1st diner in 1987 after years of involvement with classic motorcycles and automobiles. Through the brokerage, restorations, and collecting of classic vehicles he became intrigued with an overlooked icon of American ingenuity; the diner.
For over 17 years Diversified Diners has been involved in all aspects of Diners from the purchase, sales, restorations, brokerage, transportation, rigging and consultations. They have ongoing arrangements with numerous sources for specialized services and custom materials relating to the purchase, rigging, transportation, restoration and maintenance of diners.
A quick word of advice to those considering the purchase of a diner:
The purchase price of a diner while on it's original site can be extremely deceptive. Upon purchase of a diner one will incur many additional costs; Rigging costs can range from a few thousand dollars to as much as $20,000 dependent on the size, location and condition of the diner.
Transportation costs can also range from a few thousand dollars to well over $20,000 dependent on the distance traveled and the states the diner will travel through as some states are more receptive to oversize loads (NJ) than others. If the width or the height (while on the trailer) exceeds 15 foot the State's transportation authorities may impose higher tariffs, restrictive routes, curfews and demand numerous escort vehicles. The size of the diner will also dictate a great deal regarding end costs and usage. Obviously the larger the diner the greater the costs in rigging, transport and restoration but then one has a much more usable diner. Hence the trends in diner manufacturing from the 40 seat diners of 1920's and 1930's to the more popular 60 to 80 seat diners of the 1950's. The companies that are building diners presently often make diners of more than 200 seats.
Restoration costs and usability should also play into consideration. One might spend well over $100,000 to restore one diner while another might cost as little as $30,000 for a decent restoration. Furthermore the degree of restoration in part will determine the usability of a diner as any qualified restaurateur will attest that down time (due to poor wiring, broken equipment, plumbing leaks etc.) costs dearly. In many cases an older diner will need to be modified to meet ADA and current code requirements or it may be denied building approvals.
The ADA issues are a delicate issue in my opinion. While I support all efforts to make our society more "user friendly" I firmly believe that our historic landmarks need to be preserved and recognized. Diners can offer much more than the visual and historic recognition which they merit. These are structures which can be enjoyed by the general population. As many diners are going into museums and others are deservedly gaining national historic recognition it is the unassuming operational diner in "your town USA" that can truly touch the hearts and fabric of society.
Diners are a uniquely American concept where over a meal of home cooked "specials" a blend of our society can sit side by side, be they the judges and attorneys who guide the legal system or the criminals and attorneys who challenge that system, the manufactures who make the materials America relies on or the truckers who deliver them to their destinations, diners more than any other institution in this country are open to the masses. It is unfortunate that fewer of those masses may be able to enjoy the true flavor and experience of a historic diner as more restrictive laws and building codes are denying the potential operators the approvals to operate.
In the future it may only be the museum goers and not the fabric of our society that will be able to experience this genuine American institution.
Granted, with today's huge popularity for nostalgia and demand for more personal experiences diners are experiencing a major comeback. To such an extent that many national chains are using the diner theme to attract customers. Unfortunately "theme" is what most can only offer, gone is the local connection within the genuine article. Instead of a meal prepared by the local chef inside of a unique historic structure one sits within a replica of our past and gets a meal developed by a board of directors.
Trust me.... the real thing, even if it may not always compete with the board designed meal, has character. And that's what made this country in the first place.
Diversified Diners is based in Cleveland, Ohio. You may send inquires by email to diversified at oh-diners.com or you can fax to 216-229-7250.