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Melrose Diner Collection

Creator:
Kubach, Richard  Search this
Ellsworth, Scott, Dr.  Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Community Life  Search this
Melrose Diner, owners and employees  Search this
Names:
Jerry O'Mahony Company  Search this
Extent:
1.5 Cubic feet (5 boxes )
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Oral history
Audiotapes
Interviews
Place:
Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Restaurants
New Jersey -- Restaurants
Date:
1938-1988
Summary:
Correspondence, advertisements, accounting records, and 19 audio tape interviews documenting the history and operation of Melrose Diner in Philadelphia, Pa.; interviews conducted by oral historian Scott Ellsworth, 1987; and notes written by him.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of material collected by contract researcher Scott Ellsworth during a 1987 historical study of the Melrose Diner. It includes correspondence with Kubach and D'Andrea and with lessees when D'Andrea was the owner; with former employees and patrons; and with the manufacturer of the diner, the O'Mahony company. There are also menus and flyers advertising the diner, as well as payrolls and other accounting documents relating to its operation. Nineteen audio tapes of interviews Ellsworth conducted with Kubach, D'Andrea and others are also part of the collection. In addition, there is a history of the Melrose Diner based on his recorded interviews.
Arrangement:
Collection arranged into three series.

Series 1: History of Melrose Diner and Scott Ellsworth Notes

Series 2: Melrose Diner records, 1959-1983

Series 3: Audio tape interviews withowners and employees of Melrose Diner, 1987.
Biographical / Historical:
The Melrose Diner (the second structure by that name) was built by the Jerry O'Mahony Company of Bayonne, New Jersey and placed in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 1610 W. Passyunk Street. Constructed to the plans of owner Richard Kubach, a 33 year old German immigrant, the diner opened for business March 18, 1940. Kubach had been the owner of the predecessor diner at the same address which he had bought five years earlier and had quickly developed into a successful business.

The new diner with 54 seats had more than twice the capacity of its predecessor, cost $15,000 (less a 10% discount to Kubach for his planning) and was supplemented by a kitchen, bakery and storeroom. Under Kubach's skilled and enlightened management, the new diner rapidly acquired a reputation for excellent food and good service. It became a community fixture, open 24 hours a day and attracting industrial workers and merchants from the area as well as families and young people in the evenings.

In 1956, Kubach opened a third diner a few blocks from the original site and closed the older building. It remained vacant until 1959, when Jim D'Andrea, a construction foreman, bought the structure and moved it across the Delaware River to a site in Washington Township, Mercer County in New Jersey. This location on Route 130, a main highway between Philadelphia and New York, proved to be a good one for truckers as customers for the diner. D'Andrea and his son Gene leased the diner successively to more than a dozen different individuals in less than 20 years. Under this variety of managers and different names (although long term patrons continued to call it the Melrose) the diner physically deteriorated; a fire in 1979 finally ended its serviceable life. D'Andrea boarded it up in the early 1980s.
Provenance:
The material in this collection was primarily collected or created by Scott Ellsworth under contract with the National Museum of American History in 1987, as part of a project that originally envisioned the acquisition and display of the Melrose Diner by the Museum.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Restaurateurs  Search this
Truck drivers  Search this
Truck stops  Search this
Restaurants -- 1940-1980 -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia  Search this
Diners -- 1940-1979 -- Philadelphia (Pa.)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Oral history
Audiotapes
Interviews
Citation:
Melrose Diner Collection, 1938-1988, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0489
See more items in:
Melrose Diner Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0489

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