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Phi Kappa Phi Forum Online ExtrasAmerican Diner

Annotated Reading List

by Richard J.S. Gutman

Gutman, Richard J.S. and Elliott Kaufman. American Diner, Harper & Row, 1979. The first book to be written on the history of diners, with wonderful photo essays by Elliott Kaufman documenting the people populating diners in the 1970s.

Gutman, Richard J.S. American Diner Then and Now, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. An expanded history with five times the text of Gutman’s first book and 250 previously unpublished photographs. Called “The Bible, the Torah, and the Koran of diner lore, all in one handy volume,” by the Harford Courant.

Gutman, Richard J.S. The Worcester Lunch Car Company, Arcadia Publishing, 2004. The first book to focus only on one diner manufacturer, the beloved builder of 651 diners located throughout New England.

Rolph, Sarah. A1 Diner. Real Food, Recipes, & Recollections, Tilbury House, Publishers, 2006. The complete story of the A1 Diner in Gardiner, Maine, including the personal history, innovative recipes and many photographs of this unique establishment.

Williams, Jay, editor. Pleasant Journeys and Good Eats along the Way: The Paintings of John Baeder, Morris Museum of Art, 2007. A retrospective on the oeuvre of realist painter John Baeder, who focused on roadside architecture, especially American diners.

Williams, Robert O. Hometown Diners, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers, 1999. Wonderful photos with pithy descriptions of diners on the Eastern Seaboard. Photos include waitresses, cooks, patrons, signs and, of course, the diners themselves.

Richard J. S. Gutman is the director and curator of the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. He is the author of six books, including four on the history of diners, such as American Diner Then and Now (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000) and The Worcester Lunch Car Company (Arcadia Publishing, 2004). His work on diners led to a front-page profile in The Wall Street Journal and a story in “The Talk of the Town” in The New Yorker. Gutman can be heard frequently on National Public Radio discussing diners, Mallomars and mayonnaise. He has consulted on more than 80 new and old diner projects since 1978. Gutman graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University in 1972. Email him at