So… I grew up in New Jersey, the land of a million 24-hour diners. In fact, the first time I left the state and noticed a dearth of them, I was surprised in a bad way. What do you mean we just got off the plane and we can’t find hot food because it’s 11 p.m. and everything is closed? What? One can’t order breakfast past 11 a.m. here?
New Jersey is the diner capital of the world, according to Clifton, N.J.’s Michael Gabriele, the author of “The History of Diners in New Jersey.”
He calls the Garden State “the diner capital of the world” with good reason. According to the state website, New Jersey currently operates 570 diners, more than any other state. (Read more about diners and Gabrielle’s book here.)
So what’s so great about them?
Diners are comfort food or late night food epitomized. There are what seems like a 1000 things on the menu, breakfast is always available, and they’re fairly cheap (and very fast!) Nine times out of 10, they’re owned by Greek families (and passed on for generations). They have a certain type of waitress (the type to call you honey or darling) and, usually, a Hispanic bus boy who works quick, quick, quick!
The intersection of these diverse folks and the diner world are cleverly documented by one of my favorite news photojournalists, Oresti Tsonopoulos, in an audio and photo slideshow for “Borough Buzz.” It features a New York diner ( Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger in Greenwich Village) , but being a neighboring state, it reminded me of New Jersey.
When I was a newspaper journalist in the early to late-aughts, I always preferred photo slideshows to videos (even though I shot and produced videos myself) because there is something poignant about observing the detail in a striking still photo portrait of a person and their voice telling you a story.
Enjoy!<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/87221962″>At Greek Diners, A Multilingual Mashup.</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/oresti”>Oresti Tsonopoulos</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>