They were once the hang out of the counter-culture elite, and the frequent dwellings of the denizens of the underground – the classic American diner. But now these icons of food U.S. culture are dying off fast. Some predict the day of the diner will soon be done.
First of all, how do we define a diner? Well, it’s basically a small restaurant often exemplified by one long narrow counter with a row of individual sitting stools. Customers plop down and hunch over with their elbows in front of them and scan a menu.
The customer looks directly at the grill and the cooks where all the food is being prepared right in front of them. A diner can be any greasy spoon, truck stop or small mom-and-pop operation. Perhaps no there is no definitive description of “thee classic diner” but we all recognize one when we see one.
A diner is pure Americana.
But now they seem to be on the way out, say one food writer, Adam Platt. He cites research from the New York Department of Health which looked at how many restaurants still use the term “diner” in their name. It’s down from more than a thousand restaurants from a few decades ago to just 400 today.
Part of the reason is obvious. Younger generations of hipsters are spending a lot more time in Avant Garde coffee houses and seeking out organic and vegan foods in trendy small “foodie” trailers or corner shops. There are far fewer blue collar workers – truck drivers, day laborers, cops — looking for a plate of greasy eggs and bacon with a cup of black coffee – or maybe a BLT and fries with a side of slaw.
People change, tastes change and what was cool for Jack Kerouac in the 1950s would inevitably transform to something different for millennials today who have their own ideas about hip individualism.
So while the classic American Diner may never die out completely, it is becoming a far smaller part of what was once a central aspect of counter-culture cool.