Guide to the Melrose Diner Collection, 1938-1988

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.0489
Creators:
Kubach, Richard
Ellsworth, Scott, Dr.
Community Life, Div. of, NMAH, SI
Melrose Diner, owners and employees
Dates:
1938-1988
Languages:
English
Collection is in English.
Physical Description:
1.5 Cubic feet
5 boxes
Repository:
Correspondence, advertisements, accounting records, and 19 audio tape interviews documenting the history and operation of Melrose Diner in Philadelphia, Pa.; interviews conducted by oral historian Scott Ellsworth, 1987; and notes written by him.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of material collected by contract researcher Scott Ellsworth during a 1987 historical study of the Melrose Diner. It includes correspondence with Kubach and D'Andrea and with lessees when D'Andrea was the owner; with former employees and patrons; and with the manufacturer of the diner, the O'Mahony company. There are also menus and flyers advertising the diner, as well as payrolls and other accounting documents relating to its operation. Nineteen audio tapes of interviews Ellsworth conducted with Kubach, D'Andrea and others are also part of the collection. In addition, there is a history of the Melrose Diner based on his recorded interviews.

Arrangement
Arrangement
Collection arranged into three series.
Series 1: History of Melrose Diner and Scott Ellsworth Notes
Series 2: Melrose Diner records, 1959-1983
Series 3: Audio tape interviews withowners and employees of Melrose Diner, 1987.

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
The Melrose Diner (the second structure by that name) was built by the Jerry O'Mahony Company of Bayonne, New Jersey and placed in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 1610 W. Passyunk Street. Constructed to the plans of owner Richard Kubach, a 33 year old German immigrant, the diner opened for business March 18, 1940. Kubach had been the owner of the predecessor diner at the same address which he had bought five years earlier and had quickly developed into a successful business.
The new diner with 54 seats had more than twice the capacity of its predecessor, cost $15,000 (less a 10% discount to Kubach for his planning) and was supplemented by a kitchen, bakery and storeroom. Under Kubach's skilled and enlightened management, the new diner rapidly acquired a reputation for excellent food and good service. It became a community fixture, open 24 hours a day and attracting industrial workers and merchants from the area as well as families and young people in the evenings.
In 1956, Kubach opened a third diner a few blocks from the original site and closed the older building. It remained vacant until 1959, when Jim D'Andrea, a construction foreman, bought the structure and moved it across the Delaware River to a site in Washington Township, Mercer County in New Jersey. This location on Route 130, a main highway between Philadelphia and New York, proved to be a good one for truckers as customers for the diner. D'Andrea and his son Gene leased the diner successively to more than a dozen different individuals in less than 20 years. Under this variety of managers and different names (although long term patrons continued to call it the Melrose) the diner physically deteriorated; a fire in 1979 finally ended its serviceable life. D'Andrea boarded it up in the early 1980s.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by Don Darroch, October 6, 1994.
Author
Don Darroch
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The material in this collection was primarily collected or created by Scott Ellsworth under contract with the National Museum of American History in 1987, as part of a project that originally envisioned the acquisition and display of the Melrose Diner by the Museum.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Melrose Diner Collection, 1938-1988, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Custodial History
Custodial History
Notes and oral history interviews created by Scott Ellsworth for the Archives Center. Diner records transferred to the Archives Center June 1993 from the Division of Community Life.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Restaurants Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Restaurateurs Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Truck drivers Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Truck stops Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Oral history Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Audiotapes Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
New Jersey -- Restaurants Place Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Restaurants -- 1940-1980 -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diners -- 1940-1979 -- Philadelphia (Pa.) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Jerry O'Mahony Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives