The concept of the diner has to have been born in New York. (Disclaimer: I could do the appropriate research on the subject to find out for sure, but instead I’m going to base this entire post on assumptions.) It just makes sense. People are out late, and all they want is food that’s fast and comforting, served without any hassle in a simple space with lights so bright that the night’s indiscretions are temporarily dimmed, surrounded by others who won’t judge. Where else would you ever need a place like that?
Boston has about one diner that I know of, and it is open 24 hours, which is good in theory. The trouble is, Boston itself is not open 24 hours (this includes its public transportation), so if you go in the middle of the night, you’re going to have to take a cab home. It’s inconvenient, and the whole point of the diner is supposed to be convenience.
Chicago may have some diners, but I didn’t see any on my recent trip there, and I can’t imagine they’re too incredibly popular there. I have no examples or details to support this idea; I just feel like it’s probably true.
So now we come to Ohio. Since there aren’t many diners there either–or at least in the suburb where I currently am–a diner is a novelty item, like a tiny flower pot that grows a single daisy (which, incidentally, I just acquired yesterday). It doesn’t really matter whether the food is spectacular or the music is too cheesy to be enjoyable (it wasn’t and was, respectively). It’s more about the experience. And a place where you can bring 6 adults and a crying baby and be immediately seated on a Sunday night at dinnertime is a winner in my book, as well as something that you just won’t find in New York.
NYC can keep its traditional, authentic diners. For Ohio, for me, right now, Cruisin 50’s Diner will do just fine.