A Stool Pigeon's Memories

by Manny Gamallo


Long before the advent of the neon-light, stainless-steel diners, Newark was dotted with a vast array of neighborhood diners - long, narrow, shack-looking things, quite a few painted white, many with sliding entry doors that gave way to mostly counter seating.

They were the kind of places where you didn't have to mind your social manners; where you went for a hot and hearty meal, a cup of coffee, a piece of pie, and still walked out with money in your pocket.

They were the kind of places where the short-order cook could work on half a dozen orders at one time and never break a sweat. And you sat elbow to elbow with business and trades people and no one seemed to mind.

I had a favorite - a diner on Central Avenue. I can't remember the cross street, but it was a block from Newark College of Engineering. I counted on that diner at least three nights a week when I got off from my downtown job at Western Electric and had to attend nighttime engineering classes.

The one meal that still sticks in my brain is the meat loaf and mashed potatoes with gravy. I think it may have been the best I've ever had.

So, the question is, am I alone in my memories of these special places to eat? Like I said, they were all over the city, so I'm sure some of you out there may have the same memories. They were definitely a fixture of old Newark.

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Manny, Andro's Diner (before it was a RESTAURANT) was a late night favorite of mine. Posner's(sp?) on East Ferry St. was another haunt. Now there was a diner on Mary St. and the end of Avenue "L" (which I can not think of the name) that we hit also for some late night grub. Of course there was the Market Tower on Market and Fleming Sts., the St.Al's/Red Shield crew's favorite.

Joey George:

My favorite was the "Blue Castle" on Broadway, next to the Boys Club. Barely enough room inside for six or seven people to eat but always crowded, especially in the wee hours of the morning. The owner, Tom Brown, was a thrifty fellow....I remember running into him in a bar and he admitted (under the influence) that his tuna salad was two parts bread and three parts tuna. The Woodside Diner was a pretty cool place too.

Phil Lynch:
There is still one of these types of diners on the corner of Market St. and Fleming Ave. It used to be called Market tower but now its called the Ironbound diner.

Do not forget Scotty's diner on Broad St. Good diner and I remember the Woodside diner too! I loved the no airs attitude with everyone back then and we knew one another-either by looks or name. Woodside Diner had the BEST shrimp salad sandwich any where-but Stashes Evergreen had the best corn beef! I knew Marie La Marca some also. I still look for the booths - the stools the familiar- but I haven't found any replacements for those days.

Jack Keegan:
Hi Manny,,
Does the Christie Diner at the corner of Christie and Ferry St. still exist. I remember many great times there

Jule Spohn:
I can't remember any of these types of diners in Newark, but I still pass two of them everyday in Kearny. One is called MAX's and the other is right across the Harrison Street from the City Hall but I don't know the name of it. The third one I pass every day is a little bit larger, but is still a diner, called TOPS in East Newark just as you cross the Clay Street Bridge. It is a great place to eat.

What ever happen to "Dons 21"?

Jim T., Don's 21 closed some years ago. The building is still there and now operated as Seabra's Rodizio Restaurant, Brazilian cuisine I believe

Jack, Up until a year ago, the Christie St. Diner was still open for business. My parents were still living on Brill St. so I was around there often

Nicky G:
Many the only place I could think of was a little place on High and Central or the was a very good one on Norfolk and Central it had great meat loaf. The name I think was the Norfolk diner

Phil Lynch:
Rich and Jack,
The Diner on the corner of Christie and Ferry is still open during the day

Wasn't there a small diner at the end of Mott Street. It as right in front of the trestle and across from a bar. I guess I was too young to remember the names. The diner was pretty beat up in the early 50's. My husband 'hung out' at the Market Towers in the 60's, but that's a whole nother story

Jule Spohn:
Hello Manny and all. You mentioned that the short order cooks could work on six or so orders at the same time. A few years ago I was sitting at a counter in a restaurant in Manhattan on Church Street a few blocks away from the World Trade Center and was amazed watching the waiters calling their orders out to the chef and him making those orders in a few minutes and with no mistakes. I just sat there in amazement and even told the chef that I've never seen anyone remember that much stuff in such period of time and get it out so fast without forgetting anything. AMAZING to watch those guys work

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