Abandoned Rosies Diner | Abandoned 50’s Diner
The story of how we came to explore this old abandoned 50’s diner is a great story.
It’s my birthday and I’m on a roadrtip through Indiana and Michigan with RiddimRyder and Chris Luckhardt. Chris gets word that this cool old abandoned 50’s diner that he once stopped at was possibly open and we could explore it. As soon as Chris showed us a picture of it we were sold.
We had spent a whole day and night in Gary, Indiana and we had a long list of locations we still wanted to explore, however on our way back from the Jackson 5 house, we were checking out an abandoned school and we observed a large police presence surrounding this school with a number of people in hand cuffs and a K9 unit in waiting, ready to send the dogs in to find the remaining trespassers.
Our collective mood in Gary changed in an instant and we were now all weary of doing anything else in Gary, after seeing how serious the police were about it and the presence required and force used.
The drive home from Gary was about 7.5 hours, plus we would be passing through a time zone and losing an hour on the way home. The diner was a 2.5 hours away and a 45 minute detour one way to get there along the way. So, win or lose we are adding about 2 hours to our drive (plus hopefully exploring time)
So, on we go, we hit the highway and head for the diner with no guarantee that we’re getting in. Once we arrive we spot several security cameras and fresh tire tracks that seem to pull in and leave.
We all do a quick walk around, we pass cameras and look for sensors and then finally, just as we’re about to give up we found our way inside.
We headed back to my car in a lot next door and sat waiting on a response to the cameras when suddenly a truck pulls in, drives around the back of the diner and leaves just as fast.
He didn’t slow down, he didn’t get out and he didn’t even look around – we couldn’t be sure if this was a response to the cameras or a coincidence. So we sat and waited some more and debated the options.
We were torn on what we should do – is THIS location worth getting caught at? Should we cut our losses?
The final decision, we explore it in two waves.
Wave 1 – I run in solo and shoot my photos fast and handheld, I am to be in and out within 5 mins, 10 mins tops, just pictures and no video. If a truck pulls in, Chris or RiddimRyder will text me, I will zip out of the door and hide/haul ass back to the car.
Wave 2 – Riddim and Chris run in together and I do the same thing keeping 6 in the car, once they are done they text me and I’ll drive over and pick them up and we’re off.
I run in and get started, watching out the many windows constantly, waiting on a white truck to pull in. Heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, popping off shots as fast as I can. I hate working this way, I like to take my time, set up my shots and enjoy the room, not today!
My time is up, I head out back for some photos of the mini putt and head back to the car. Success
Now, RiddimRyder and Chris are both ready for their turn so they gear up and head in while I keep watch. They collectively described their experience inside together as a well choreographed dance routine. How romantic!
Chris texts me that they are done, so I drive over to get them and now, since we are all out and have been inside, we start popping off exteriors because there is no harm in that. We get back in the car and the first thing I say is :
“I really want to go back inside”
But I don’t, be happy with what you’ve got – you got in, you got pics and it was awesome – end of story!
Now, we have almost 6 hours driving until home, not including stops and the border – which is a WHOLE other story.
Try telling border guards that the 3 bald, bearded and tattooed men in the car drove almost 8 hours to visit Gary, Indiana for one night, to take pictures.
The customs agent wasn’t buying it and we were hauled in for inspection. For what felt like at least one hour, maybe more, we three dreary, weathered and worn explorers were questioned, searched, questioned again. The same questions asked different ways that always resulted in the same answers. They searched our bags, checked our cameras, checked my trunk, my console and my glove box.
How do we know each other, what do we do, where did we meet. I always love that question, because we all met on the internet through mutual friends and mutual interests – customs agents do NOT understand this and I really do not understand why anyone would drive any extended amount of time to take pictures.
Shaking their heads and noticeably confused, they sent us on our way.
Just over one week later and those borders were closed and all of our lives would change drastically!
You can read up on the history of this diner on RiddimRyders Website
Built in 1946 by the Paramount Dining Car Company, Silver Dollar Diner opened its door in Little Ferry, New Jersey. The diner was used as a filming location for many commercials most notably by the Bounty Paper Towel Company. Both Sanka & Pepsi both filmed commercials at the diner however the real fame & notoriety came from the Bounty commercials. Bounty loved the location so much that they filmed multiple commercials there all featuring a fictional waitress name Rosie.
It was during the 1970’s when the Bounty commercials were filmed & the simple storyline was around clumsy customers who would spill their drinks. Rosie the waitress would come to their aid & wipe up the mess with the paper towel stating it was the “quicker picker upper!” which is a well-known phrase to this day. This was also when the diner was renamed to Rosie’s!
For two decades Nancy starred in the bounty commercials however after the 1970’s they were filmed in a studio rather than the original diner. Other companies who had used the diner for advertisement included both Sony & Ethan Allen Furniture. After not only serving the community for 45 year, the greasy spoon as it was affectionately known, was put up for sale in 1990. Before it was put up for sale, the owner, Ralph Corrado Jr, offered the “Most Famous Diner in America” to the Smithsonian Institution however they rejected it so the diner was up for grab.
It was then that Jerry Berta, an artist who produced ceramic replicas of classic diners & had always been inspired by Rosie’s, caught wind of it being put up for sale. Jerry had previously owned a dining car quickly purchased his inspiration & moved it to its current location in Michigan. The diner was cut in half just a week after it closed & loaded on to flatbed trucks for the relocation. The diner reopened in July of 1991.
In 1994 Jerry decided to expand on the diner & purchased a 1952 Silk City Car & moved it from New York to Michigan. The he built a reproduction car onsite. The location became known as Dinerland & featured a diner art gallery & a 3.5 acre food themed mini putt course out back!
In 2006 the diner changed hands again & was now owned by Jonelle & Randy Rosette who made some major changes to Dinerland. The Silk City car was converted into a sports bar & the Mahoney into a seasonal ice cream shop however the mini putt never reopened. The diner was featured in the television series Diners Drive-ins & Dives in 2006 as well as Diners Paradise.
In 2011 Rosie’s closed down with no hopes of reopening. The property was sold at auction to the owner of a nearby Chevrolet dealership for $125,000. Although the diner never re-opened, the man who purchased in offered tours during car shows held in the large lot out front.
In 2018 the owner was working with a nonprofit organization in hopes of restoring the diner & other buildings however it seems those plans have fallen apart.
History c/o RiddimRyder