The Evolution of the American DinerMain MenuThe Original Lunch WagonsWhere the American Diner found its audience and purpose.T. H. Buckley- Come Get Your American DreamFinding success in a new business.The Transition from Horse-Drawn to StationaryWhy Lunch Wagons found themselves abandoning the horse.The Classic American EntrepreneurshipThe appeal of owning a lunch wagon to working-class Americans.The Masters of the Booming Lunch Car IndustryAppealing to the customersThe effort to appeal to a wider customer base.Decline of the American DinerCultural Relics of the Twenty-First CenturyMedia GalleryMedia Used and Collected in the Making of this ProjectCreditsSources Used in ResearchCassidy Nemickcf80a2fbfbf26cc0303a79834a26a4cb79a11a9b
Quick Lunch Wagon 1918
12016-10-27T09:02:51-07:00Cassidy Nemickcf80a2fbfbf26cc0303a79834a26a4cb79a11a9b115201The actual photo is owned by the Passaic Historical Commission (currently defunct) and is used with permission of the Passaic City Historian, Mark S. Auerbach. This photo only appears in Michael C. Gabriele’s exceptional book, The History of Diners in New Jersey.plain2016-10-27T09:02:51-07:00Cassidy Nemickcf80a2fbfbf26cc0303a79834a26a4cb79a11a9b
12016-11-26T20:44:50-08:00Cassidy Nemickcf80a2fbfbf26cc0303a79834a26a4cb79a11a9bMedia GalleryCassidy Nemick1Media Used and Collected in the Making of this Projectgallery2016-11-26T20:44:50-08:00Cassidy Nemickcf80a2fbfbf26cc0303a79834a26a4cb79a11a9b
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14602097050_319ae2cc27_b.jpgmedia/Quick Lunch Wagon - 1918(2).jpg2016-10-28T16:29:44-07:00The Transition from Horse-Drawn to Stationary5image_header2016-11-05T17:22:46-07:00 How did the horse drawn wagon find its way to a stationary location?
Originally the very first lunch wagon by Walter Scott was horse-drawn. Scott’s wagon had to be horse drawn to transport his goods and business throughout the city to find customers. The appeal of a move-able business far outweighed having a stationary business. Having a stationary business meant that customers had to come to you, but by owning a portable business you could relocate yourself in search of customers. The number of customers you could service multiplied by having a portable business.
To maximize sales Walter Scott purchased not only his modified freight wagon but also a horse named “Patient Dick”. One of Walter Scott’s favorites spots for business was along Westminster Street, but he also commonly planted his business in front of the offices of the Providence Daily Journal.
The issue with having a popular and successful lunch wagon, was that other promising and driven individuals could just as easily acquire a lunch wagon and create competition. As Gutman says, “In this fledgling business, the possibilities were so vast that many an entrepreneur could rightly earn the title of pioneer.” The opportunity for success was there and many working class people took this chance for success.
Along with lunch wagons, came the patrons. The patrons of lunch wagons varied from late night industrial workers, reporters working late into the evening, rowdy young people, and even just a regular customer getting his daily cup of coffee. There existed a vast variety of customers and owners alike. By 1912, the popularity of lunch wagons grew so quickly there were almost fifty lunch wagons being carted around the streets in Providence, Rhode Island.
With their growing popularity, the lunch wagons began to wear. The constant visits from regulars and rowdy customers alike lunch wagons began to fall apart and their paint chip. The operating permits of lunch wagons require that they can only operate at night. Operation during the morning hours was a violation and often caused traffic congestion. With more and more entrepreneurs trying to make a buck in the lunch wagon business, more and more complaints against them rose.
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In order to quell the rising complaints cities mandated that lunch wagons be closed for business and off of the streets by 10:00 in the morning. Of course, this did not stop the lunch wagons. To get around this new requirement, lunch wagons began to give up on the idea of having a horse-drawn wagon. Instead many began to find a site off of the road, to plant their business and avoid the regulations on night lunch wagons. Gutman states, “Supporting the romantic image of the horse-drawn lunch cart was really a lot of trouble and soon most everybody was happy to abandon it.” By abandoning the horse-drawn aspect of a lunch wagon, wagons could stay open longer, no longer had to take care of a horse, and complaints against them were reduced. It was a win-win solution for the lunch wagon business.