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Issue Date: November 2010 Issue

Rant: Diners Are America

Alex Ash
We take our diner culture for granted. The tile floors, paper place mats and big booths too often get discounted as cheesy or boring. Au contraire. It just took moving to Paris and working eight months at a diner called Breakfast in America for me to realize this. Diners are raw. They refuse to hide the work that goes into them. We rolled silverware in paper napkins and washed glasses in front of customers. We shouted out milkshake orders across the dining room and took part in the occasional sing-a-long to Michael Jackson or Queen. These things were not scripted to create the right ambience. They happened because we worked at an American diner, even if it was in Europe. Diners represent the essence of Americans. We're as loud and as cheerful as the music on the jukebox and as hearty as the portions on the plate. There was always a line of people waiting to pack our inviting red booths, enjoy bottomless cups of coffee and relax. There's a je ne sais quoi in comfort created without even trying. American diners are not fancy, but they are real — that's something that translates effortlessly.

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