The pre-cursor to the diner was the lunch wagon. Pulled by horse, these wagons roamed the streets at night after most restaurants had closed. Customers ordered at a window and sat on the curb to eat their food. After gaining popularity, they became mobile restaurants in 1887 when Samuel Jones added a few seats inside his wagon. Soon people started referring to them as lunch cars. The first stationary lunch car was made around 1913 by Jerry O’Mahony, who was the founder of one of the first factories that manufactured diners. Once the lunch cars established fixed locations, people started calling them dining cars, and this was later shortened to diner around 1924. The primary difference between a diner and a coffee shop or café is that they are built in factories and shipped to their location, rather than constructed on-site. During the height of diner popularity, there were more than 6,000 of them manufactured and shipped all over the country.
From Wagons to Diners
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