Long-awaited Wayne Junction trolley car diner arrives in Philly
Northwest Philadelphia got another vintage trolley car diner today, delivered to the Wayne Junction area where a vast redevelopment project is underway.
Wayne's World marked a major milestone in its redevelopment on Friday, when a vintage trolley car diner was delivered from Connecticut to a site near Wayne Junction, set to open by next spring as a new diner for the area.
"The old Wayne Junction diner was demolished in the early '90s," said Philly Office Group developer Ken Weinstein, who bought the diner and had it trucked to its new home at 133 Berkley St. Now he's looking for an operator who would like to turn it into a new neighborhood anchor.
"A lot of people fondly remember eating at the old Wayne Junction diner, and we would like them to start new memories here at this Wayne Junction diner," Weinstein said.
The 1950s-made diner made for a wide load on the road, and had a police escort on its ride down from Broad and Cheltenham to its new home by SEPTA's Wayne Junction train station.
It was placed on the former location of the Van Straaten and Havey Silk Mill, next to the former Blaisdell Paper Pencil Company at 137 Berkley Street.
The former Wayne Junction Diner used to be located around the corner. The Paramount-style diner is remembered as being a beloved local eatery for decades, but closed and went up for sale in the '90s, sitting vacant until it was demolished in 2008.
"There's obviously a lot of nostalgia around the old Wayne Junction diner, so we're excited to resurrect that idea and bring it back, 25 years later," Weinstein said.
Weinstein owns and operates the well-known Trolley Car Diner on Lincoln Drive, a 1952 Mountain View diner that was delivered by two helicopters and set down on Germantown Avenue near Cresheim Valley Parkway in 1999, opening in 2000.
But the new diner, manufactured by the Mountain View Diners Company of Singac, NJ in 1950, has been operated in Connecticut for some 68 years.
Weinstein said he wants the diner to hire locally, and said he is encouraging neighbors interested in culinary work to look into Philabundance's free 14-week culinary training program.
The diner still needs a proper foundation laid and an additional one-story structure to contain a kitchen and bathroom facilities, but Weinstein said he is aiming for it to open by next spring.
This diner was manufactured by the Mountain View Diners Company in Singac, NJ in 1950, and has lived many lives over the past 68 years at several different locations:
-Egan’s Diner, Waterbury, CT
-Windham Diner Willimantic, CT
-1971-86: G. Otto’s Hiway Diner, Southington, CT
-1987-at least 1993: Valley Diner, Waterbury, CT
-2005: Reopens as Mickeys, Willimantic, CT
-The diner was later connected to Jonathan’s Cafe, a college-oriented nightclub, detached in late August 2016 and moved to be put up for sale.
-May 2018: Philly Office Retail purchases diner for Wayne Junction site
In 2017, Weinstein announced his plan for a $13 million redevelopment projecy of residential and business units around the Wayne Junction SEPTA station on the border of Germantown and Nicetown, itself designed by Frank Furness and classified as a historic site.
Weinstein aims to redevelop some 122,581 square feet of existing real estate. The redevelopment plan calls for new restaurants, a local location for Attic Brewing Company, coffee shops, a co-working space, a dog park, and the new headquarters of Philly Office Retail.
Those new offices are set to open first, along with a coworking space for Jumpstart Germantown, inside at 4701 Germantown Ave., an 1876-built former Schaeffer School with an all-Wissahickon schist exterior that was deemed a historic site in 1986.
"Everything is moving ahead quickly," Weinstein said, "and we should have everything done within a year from now."