There are museums for everything. Did you know New Jersey has a spoon museum? It’s inside Lambert Castle in Paterson. So it’s not a stretch to have a diner exhibit in an existing museum.

That’s exactly what’s coming Saturday, July 8 to Paterson Museum. “Order’s Up! Paterson and the Rise of the Jersey Diner” is the creation of co-curators Michael C Gabriele and Heather Garside.

Gabriele, known to be the Garden State’s foremost diner expert, took a meeting with partner Garside at (where else?) the Tick Tock Diner to do planning.

american diner restaurant style in black and white tiles and red booths

The exhibit will feature artifacts, photography, and an emphasis on the Silk City’s legendary luncheonettes and hot dog grills.

Many of the photographs featured were taken by Gabriele himself, who waxes poetic about how much a part of the New Jersey fabric diners are.

“It’s part of the culture, part of the spirit, part of the mythology,” he says.

Typical diner breakfast
Diana Van der Sluys

New Jersey is still the diner capital of the world.

Present day we boast between 500 to 525 diners, not as much as in the 1950s but still plenty enough to retain the title belt.

Things I hope will be proudly displayed at this diner exhibit:

⚫ A mini jukebox that sat right inside a booth with you (and had to by law contain a Frank Sinatra song)

⚫ A paper placemat with little ads from local businesses, one of which must contain a bail bondsman.

⚫ The cats eye eyeglasses on a chain an octogenarian waitress wore around her neck as she worked the graveyard shift calling everyone Hon.

⚫ A Lucite spinning cube decorated on all 5 sides with local business cards.

⚫ An oversized laminated menu from the 1970s which still has a fossilized ketchup stain on page 3.

Order’s Up! Paterson and the Rise of the Jersey Diner” starts July 8 with a public gala from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and runs through September 24. Paterson Museum is at 2 Market Street in Paterson.

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