It was the first Saturday morning in May, and this reporter decided to have lunch at a New Jersey diner located in Pennsylvania; A beautiful, vintage diner, built in Little Falls/Singac, which calls the quaint, historic town of Milford home.
The Village Diner, is a circa-1956, factory-built diner manufactured by Mountain View. I’ve visited this diner several times in recent years, but the occasion on this day was to take part in a fun event organized by Mod Betty (aka Beth Lennon), an author, social media entrepreneur, travel hostess, and founder of Retro Roadmap.
Mod Betty and her devoted Retro Roadmappers were out in force, enjoying savory dishes generated by The Village Diner kitchen. The Roadmappers are nostalgic, sentimental souls who actively express their undying love for retro Americana culture; All the good stuff to help you recall those thrilling days of yesteryear (“Hi-yo Silver, away!”). New Jersey diners—those located inside and outside the Garden State—are fixtures in this brand of retro passion.
Special guest Ms. Velveteen (Kelly Patterson), a “mid-century hostess with the mostess and video star,” along with her dapper, convivial husband (Paul Spencer), joined Mod Betty The trio greeted guests and served samples of Ms. Velveteen’s hand-crafted, distinctive cocktails and mocktails. A friendly group of local motorcycle riders also took part in the festivities as the selected destination for their monthly “fun run.”
Needless to say, it was a most eclectic and colorful gathering of warm-hearted individuals interacting inside a glorious Jersey-built stainless steel eatery. A splendid time was had by all. Stuff like this only happens in a diner.
Meet the Owner
Maria Pagelos Wall, a 1990 graduate of Dover High School, owns and operates The Village Diner. Her parents, now deceased, purchased the diner in 1990. Maria’s family, for many years, worked at diners in the Morris County townships of Dover and Denville.
Maria confessed that operating a classic diner is hard work with long hours, but added that her saving grace comes from her customers. “Sometimes people come from miles away, just because they had heard of our diner.” Maria noted how her customers enjoy telling stories and sharing memories when they visit The Village Diner. She said this is a source of inspiration that makes the hard work worthwhile.
On the Menu
The diner was more than up to the challenge of satisfying the hungry band of Retro Roadmappers and motorcyclists. Lunch orders included disco meatloaf (traditional meatloaf smothered in cheese and brown gravy), veggie burger wraps with golden onion rings, along with Monte Cristo and Corned Beef Ruben sandwiches. However, a bountiful Greek salad topped with Feta cheese and integrated with seasoned French Fries stood out as the most-impressive dish of the day.
This reporter enjoyed two eggs over easy and over a bed of superb corned beef hash. Dessert was a homemade slice of pecan pie made by Maria. The meal was complemented by a top-secret organic dark roast coffee. Three cups were a most-satisfying treat.
The spacious prefabricated, modular, stainless steel gem, with 18 stools and a wrap-around counter, was built by Mountain View, a golden-age diner manufacturer founded in 1939 by Henry Strys and Les Daniels. Several Mountain View diners still operate in the Garden State: the Key City Diner in Phillipsburg; the Colonial Diner in Lyndhurst; the Pink Cadillac Diner in Wildwood; and the 54 Diner in Buena.
As for Mod Betty, who hails from Phoenixville, PA, she is a true friend of the Jersey diner circuit and holds a special place in her heart for retro Garden State diners and other down-home roadside attractions. She publishes books and organizes events, all for the sake of encouraging people to better appreciate the joys of retro treasures like venerable eateries, ice cream parlors, homemade candy shops, bowling alleys, movie theaters, bakeries and taverns.
Her abiding hope is that, by spotlighting these treasured pieces of Americana history, they can be enjoyed and supported before they disappear and become distant memories. It is a noble effort. New Jersey diner fans lament the many classic diners that have been lost, relocated or demolished in recent years. As she wrote in her book Mod Betty’s Guide to South Jersey, “discover cool, vintage places, good eats and retro fun. The road is calling; overcome the inertia of the internet and go create some memories instead of regrets.”
No regrets. No worries. Be kind, be gentle, go retro, and whenever possible, overcome inertia and drop by your favorite diner for a bite to eat.
The Village Diner
268 Route 6 and Route 209
Milford, PA 18337-9454
Beth Lennon (Mod Betty)
Velveteen Lounge “Kitsch-en”
Kelly Patterson (Ms. Velveteen)