There are American diners and there are American diners….my idea of a charming American diner is Rosebuds in Davis Square (Somerville/Cambridge) just outside Boston. It is an original classic with a silver exterior, soft cushioned barstools, the Flo-like waitress behind the counter who is ever appearing with a coffee pot, booths with coat hangers on the end of each seat and traditional ketchup and creamers on every table.
There are diners that resemble Rosebuds in many small towns around the country, including my hometown’s New York Lunch in Gloversville, NY. Less traditional in character, it has its Flo-like waitresses, the soft barstools, homemade rice pudding to die for and the gut wrenching but popular “everything hotdog” for $1.95. When you ask for the “works,” you get it all – the mustard, ground beef, ketchup, onions and relish.
Then there are the American midwest “in the middle of nowhere” diners. These diners often don’t have the soft barstools or the tableside jukebox machines but they do have the Flo-like waitresses armed with coffee pots, the endless cokes with large straws and real cowboys.
We discovered Doo-Wah Dittys Diner, a crossbreed diner/truck stop in Kimball South Dakota. As we drove into the parking lot, an old rusty blue truck from another era pulled in alongside us…..our dinner guests as it turned out. In towns like Kimball, places like Doo-Wah Dittys Diner are typical and there’s not much else to choose from on any night of the week, including Saturday night.
Open later than most places we encountered along the way, our evenings ended shortly after “the town diner” closed for the night, usually around 8 pm. Here we discovered one other place called Mo’s, which really was nothing more than a one-horse saloon in the middle of the prairies.
Ah, the open prairies. No WalMart, no cinemas, no fast food chains, no Starbucks – just a string of lazy cows grazing, Wall Drug-like billboards, trading posts, haystacks, long grass, a dumpy and bare petrol station that surrounded nothing but flat fields and alas, the American diner.
Al’s Oasis, which nestled among a strip of western saloon style buildings along South Dakota’s I90, was known for its Buffalo Burger, a common item on the menu in the area. The only choice in town, it sat adjacent to the petrol station and convenient store just off the highway. Hard as a rock, it has to be eaten. The key thing to remember at a moment like this: “ask the waitress for colorful stories and be an attentive listener….once you’re lost in her dialogue, you forget about high quality cuisine and relish in why you’re where you’re at.”
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.
She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.
Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.
Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.