Would You Like to Buy a Diner Car — or Two or Three of Them?
Earlier this year I wrote about how sad it was to drive by the former Rosie's Diner in Rockford and see it just falling apart and being vandalized. Now, the former diner, and two other dining cars, are for sale with hopes of them finding a new owner(s) and them being moved to a new location(s).
The main diner, on 14 Mile Road just east of US-131 in Rockford, has quite the history...
The restaurant was originally known as the "Silver Dollar Diner". The diner car that was home to the restaurant was located in Little Ferry, New Jersey. The diner car was built in 1946 by the Paramount Dining Car Company. The restaurant opened sometimes in the late 1940s.
Over the years, the diner was used as the setting for many TV commercials. Companies like Sanka coffee, Pepsi, Ethan Allen Furniture, and Sony used the New Jersey diner location for their advertisements. The most famous commercials that used the diner were for Bounty paper towel. Those commercials were filmed inside the diner during the 1970s. In the spots, clumsy patrons would knock over beverages, and Rosie the Waitress (played by actress Nancy Walker), would clean up the mess using Bounty paper towels referred to as the "quicker picker-upper".
Michigan artist Jerry Berta purchased the diner car and moved it to it's 14 Mile Road location in Rockford, Michigan. He paid $10,000 for the 24-by-60-foot building. Work crews sawed the diner in half the week after it closed in 1990 in New Jersey. The diner was then loaded on flatbed trucks for the move to Michigan. The restaurant opened at its Rockford location on July 5, 1991.
Berta sold the three diner cars and business to Jonelle and Randy Roest in 2006. Shortly after, Rosie's Diner was featured on the TV show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives". Unfortunately, the restaurant officially closed in 2011.
The following year, Aaron Koehn, placed a bid for the property and dining cars. Aaron and his father own the neighboring car dealership and looked at the property for potential future expansion.
Since buying the property, Koehn hasn't done much with it. He has done a few car sales events there and allowed some films to use the diner cars for their movies.
Over the years, Koehn has been approached by several people interested in buying the diner cars, but none of those deals have worked out.
In a recent article in the Detroit Free Press, Koehn says he hopes he can find a new home for the diners. He says they are still structurally sound and could be preserved.
How would you like to buy a diner car? Or maybe two or three of them? I hope whoever buys these structures keeps them in west Michigan and maybe once again opens up Rosie's Diner.
Check out the Detroit Free Press article for some great pictures of the diner. It's so sad to see it sitting there, so lonely, being vandalized in its current location. It deserves so much better.