The Giordano Diner has been relocated as a part of the Mill One project in Hamilton. More information on the relocation can be found here.
Located on US Route 1 in Lawrence, the former Giordano Diner is a rare surviving example of a Mountain View Company diner. Constructed circa 1950, the diner consists of a prefabricated aluminum diner and an on-site concrete block addition housing the restrooms and kitchen support space. The diner has been abandoned for many years and is now threatened by demolition for a new shopping center. The exterior retains original aluminum material and detailing including ribbed corner trim, raised panels, fascia trim, and articulated diamond pattern, as well as horizontal stripping in green laminate (mica). While altered, the interior still conveys the historic character of the diner, retaining most of its original ceiling, the counter on the north side with most of its stools, quilted metal rear wall, tiled floor, tri-color ceramic tile wainscot (currently clad with vertical wood paneling), and mirror-clad corners that reflect the ribbon of aluminum framed windows. In 2001, the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office determined the diner to be eligible for listing on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Sites.
The diner was originally located nearby on Calhoun Street in Trenton and was known as the Calhoun Diner. It was moved to its present location on Route 1 in the 1960s and has gone by several other names including The Cass, The Giordano and Ben’s over the past fifty years. The Mountain View Diner Company of the Signac section of Little Falls, New Jersey produced prefabricated diners from 1939 to 1957. Henry Strys and Les Daniel formed MountainView Diners in 1939, naming the company after the Mountain View section of Wayne, Strys’s hometown. Daniel had previously been a foreman with existing diner builders and Strys was an experienced contractor and builder. They adopted a precise, scientific approach to manufacturing their prefabricated diners and this philosophy was reflected in the company’s slogan, “A Mountain View Diner Will Last a Lifetime.” The company attempted to go public in 1956 but went out of business soon after. During its lifetime, Mountain View Diners produced over 400 diners that were shipped throughout the country. As of 2001, the New Jersey Historic Preservation Office knew of only five remaining Mountain View diners in New Jersey, with the Giordano Diner being the only example in the central part of the state.
In 2010, Preservation New Jersey listed “Historic Diners of New Jersey” on the 10 Most Endangered list. In New Jersey, historic diners are not only emblems of mid-20th-century consumer culture, but of manufacturing as well. From the 1920s through the 1980s, New Jersey was home to at least six and as many as twenty manufacturers of prefabricated diners. The prevalence of local diner manufactures made for cheap and easy transport throughout this region, bolstering the commonality of the diner along New Jersey’s roadways. Further, New Jersey’s heavily-traveled thoroughfares linking major metropolitan areas, dense suburbs, and the famous Jersey shore created the perfect environment for the widespread establishment and success of roadside businesses, including diners.
The Giordano Diner is currently included in a 16-acre redevelopment project set to transform the site into the new Lawrence Commons shopping center. The developer is offering the diner for free to anyone who will relocate it, whether intact or dismantled. The prefabricated nature of the building makes dismantling the simpler option. Preservation New Jersey strongly encourages the relocation and reuse of the Giordano Diner. The diner should be thoroughly documented to map all of the parts and understand how it needs to be reassembled. The existing concrete-block rear addition is reversible and its removal would not affect the original diner building. Reconstruction of the building, including options regarding the rear addition and its new foundation, would ultimately be determined by its reuse. Several plausible reuse options exist including as a mid-century architectural statement or sculptural piece, a venue for rental opportunities, or as its original intended use as a restaurant. New Jersey’s historic diners are representative of 20th-century development, culture, and architecture throughout the state and country. An integral part of New Jersey’s cultural landscape and more specifically, its scenic byways, historic diners help tell the story of the state’s 20th-century development.
Preservation New Jersey