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Sunday, January 4, 2009

At the Prospect Diner

Prospect Diner,
© 2009 DinerHistory.com file photo
Updated 1/6/2009.

It was back in 2004 and Randy Garbin's list of diners visited, that we first learned of this diner's previous name. During May of 2008, an article appeared on LancasterOnline.com, mentioning the diner's change of hands. Since then the diner's been operated by Michael and April Conroy.

When we arrived at the diner, the parking lot was empty and the lights were off. We noticed a handwritten piece of paper was taped to the inside of the front door. Today was the start of new operating hours. Unable to go inside and experience the diner, we took some pictures and made some observations for later publication here.

In looking at the diner, we'd have to say there are many striking features. One of them being the up angled roof overhang. Placing pictures of diners from this era side by side, reveals variations in overhang styling used by the different manufacturers. As seen in the picture, a common feature in Space Age styled diners is recessed lighting. Sometimes it's in a zigzag staggered pattern like the Prospect. Notice the edging on the Prospect's overhang. It's comprised of sections stamped with a single horizontal reverse channel. Piecing these sections together, it wraps around the overhang maintaining its streamlined appearance.

The exterior siding hass almost a candy stripe pattern. The horizontal siding is a 4/4 banded arrangement. That is, at the base of the windows begins a band of stainless, creased with three horizontal bends. Below that is a solid red band. The pattern repeats, four of each in total, ending with a solid red band. Above the windows and at the base of the diner, is a wide band of stainless. In contrast to the overhang edging, this has a double stamped horizontal reverse channel. For another discussion of exteriors, take a look at our blog post describing the O'Mahony built Supreme Roast Beef restaurant. While DeRaffele mixed horizontal and vertical striping on the exterior, the book Diners of Pennsylvania notes the Prospect is a Kullman manufactured diner. When we think of Kullman diners of this era, the Elizaville Diner is the first diner that comes to mind. Refer to Agilitynut's photos here. In contrast to the Prospect, Elizaville's corners are all slanted forward.

The interior of the diner maintains it's terrazzo style floor and stool seating. It looks like the booth seating and tables have been replaced. Perhaps the oddest thing with the diner is the inset ceiling Formica tiles. There's a random pattern of red, black and yellow tiles. We aren't sure if these are original or been subject to replacement or repainting over the years. Those colors we associate with a certain franchise fast food restaurant. Supposedly the ketchup mustard theme are disconcerting psychologically, prompting the patrons to not stay long. Perhaps this is something we'll inquire about when we get to visit the diner again, if they are open.

This brings us to our final observation. While the diner sits on Highway 462, it's approximately a quarter mile from U.S. 30. We don't recall there being any signage. What this diner needs is a large roof sign. Even better would be a huge channel neon sign with red letters spelling the word DINER. For instance, the Miss Portland has a three sided DINER sign mounted high up and visible from just about any angle.

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Prospect Diner
4030 Minute Dr.
Columbia, Pennsylvania.
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Spencer January 5, 2009 at 10:28 PM  

Its under new management, right? No longer Keri's Prospect? Has it improved?

Anonymous January 7, 2009 at 12:27 PM  

Yes, in addition to the news article, Brian Butko's blog entry mentioned the new owners too. Unfortunately we arrived after the diner had already closed for the day.

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