On a 2009 documentary trip along the National Road and US 40 in western Indiana, I stopped to photograph this diner, which had been closed for some time. The stainless steel portion of this structure was manufactured by the Mountain View Diners company of Signac, NJ, and was shipped via railroad to this spot just east of Plainfield, Indiana, in 1954.

The Diner
Minolta X-700, 50mm f/1.7 Minolta MD, Fujicolor 200, 2009

In 2014, this diner was purchased by new owners and relocated to downtown Plainfield. It opened in November after a restoration and the construction of a new extension behind the original stainless-steel diner. I visited in December of that year for dinner, and made this photo.

Oasis Diner
Canon PowerShot S95

Here’s the Oasis Diner from my bicycle trip across Indiana this year. I had stopped for lunch elsewhere; had I remembered about the Oasis’s outdoor seating, I would certainly have lunched here! (I always wanted to be near my bicycle, as everything for my trip was loaded onto it. So I wasn’t eating inside restaurants while riding.)

Oasis Diner
Apple iPhone 12 mini

It’s too bad they chose to plant trees in the streetscape; they block the view of this delicious old diner.

I’ve driven the National Road from its beginning in Baltimore, MD to its end in Vandaila, IL. To read everything I’ve ever written about it, click here.

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Comments

18 responses to “Then and now: The Oasis Diner”

  1. brandib1977 Avatar

    I was obsessed with the Oasis on my National Road adventure a few years ago. They did a great job with it and they even had a couple of vegetarian options. The food and service were just as good as the atmosphere and that’s a rare find. Diners typically have great atmosphere but anything I can eat is marginal.

    But you’re right. Too bad about the trees.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The Oasis is the perfect diner for you then!

      1. brandib1977 Avatar

        Indeed. And now I want to go back!!

  2. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    I was living in Indy when they reopened this, and always intended to get there for a meal…didn’t make it tho. I have a soft spot for these diners. My brother spent a number of years at the beginning of his newspaper career working in the greater New Jersey area for medium sized dailies, and when I visited him, we’d always end up at a diner at some point in the evening (usually 1am). No mystery why they were all over ‘Jersey, since there were diner construction companies in the area. I guess they could be shipped “knock-down” by rail car or semi, all over the country, as per your info.

    We have three or four of these left in the great Milwaukee area, all in various states of disrepair, some no longer in use and waiting reno or resale/moving. I guess my architectural friends tell me that since these were shipped knocked-down, not a big deal to disassemble them and move them someplace else, but they usually all have large conventional add-ons to the back or sides for expanded seating as the business grew in the old days.

    Local ‘Jersey slang, always referred to these as a “Greek”, as in “Let’s go down to the Greek and get a burger.” But I don’t know if it was slang for all small café/diners or just these stainless steel ones; but it always seemed to be the stainless steel ones, mostly because that’s all there were! All owned by Greek families, so no mystery there. Interestingly enough, a lot of the café/diners in the Milwaukee area are also owned by Greek families.

    Glad they’re keeping this one alive!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      There’s nothing better than a New Jersey diner!

  3. Paul Hoppe Photography Avatar

    I’d love to visit such a diner and grab some comfy diner food. There some “American Style” diners in Gemany but they are mostly just overpriced and touristy. Yeah the trees obstruct the view but it sure looks nice to sit there with a bit of green.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’m sure that’s kind of like how the “authentic German restaurants” here are overpriced and touristy!

  4. Marc Beebe Avatar

    They’ve obscured the mid century modern/Googie style and Edward Hopper ethos you captured so well in that middle photo. Moving on is not always moving forward.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I hate trees in the streetscape because they block views of the architecture. I wish cities would cut it out with the trees.

      1. Marc Beebe Avatar

        People only seem to want to cut trees in the forest. Some basic confusion there! :D

  5. Kurt Ingham Avatar
    Kurt Ingham

    Thanks, again, for a fascinating post!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      My pleasure!

  6. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    Fascinating post…a very American Diner! Good to see it preserved!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s a classic for sure!

  7. marcusterrypeddle Avatar

    The night view certainly looks more inviting than the day view.
    I always think of the Jack Reacher novels when I read about or see a photo of a diner. How does that guy survive on nothing but cheeseburgers, pancakes, eggs, bacon, and coffee?

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I don’t know, but I wish I could manage it myself!

  8. Khürt Williams Avatar

    I like diners. I love trees.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Me too — far separated from each other.

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