The “DINER”, as it was known as, was a landmark in the city of Angola, Indiana for many years and was the most popular place to get a good home cooked meal for not only the locals, but also for many Tri-State College students. This diner sat at 405 W. Maumee from 1948 until 1993, when it was given to NATMUS. This diner was manufactured, in Wichita, Kansas, in 1947 by the Valentine Manufacturing Company, Valentine Diners were the premiere diners manufactured in the 1940’s and 1950’s in the United States.
This diner was a featured article in the book titled “DINERS” by John Baeder and published by Harry N. Adams, Inc. in 1978.
The museum acquired the badly deteriorated structure in 1993 and planned to restore it to its original splendor. Due to lack of funds and that the museum was in its own early stages, the diner project was put on the back burner. The Diner had severely deteriorated. The entire structure had to be completely redesigned and manufactured to be structurally sound while matching the original overall dimensions. The structure was totally recreated in mid 2010 and through the many hours of the volunteers, the interior was finished in late 2010. With the help of one of the last owners and through numerous pictures, the inside was restored to its exact floor plan using of the original appliances, counter, and stools. One of Valentines signatures was a round mirror on the wall at the end of the counter. This too was replicated to the 1948 status. From the black and white checkerboard floor to the red vinyl covered stools on chrome pedestals to the jukebox head on the counter everything was accurately restored.
On Wednesday June 22, 2011, the National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States (NATMUS) hosted the Grand Debut of the vintage DINER. Five of the past cooks and waitresses attended along with friends of the museum, volunteers, and press. One of the former waitresses traveled over 270 miles just to attend the celebration. NATMUS Executive Director Don Grogg kicked off the celebration with a little history of the diner and its restoration and then turned it into a grand time to reminisce and tell stories of the past. Many old friendships were re kindled at the same time.
The DINER sets on the display floor of the L-29 building (which gets it’s name from the famous L-29 Cord automobile) to bring back memories, whether in of that particular diner or in one maybe you used to visit in days past. NATMUS hosts many visitors per year and is continually seeking ways to educate the public to the auto and truck heritage of the United States. Having other displays, as the DINER, just adds to the ambiance and brings back memories, something that should never be lost.