VT Diner Tour: Springfield Royal Diner

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Springfield Royal Diner, Springfield, VT

Springfield Royal Diner is an extremely rare Mahony Diner Car. While the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company of Elizabeth, NJ, produced around 2,000 diners from 1917 to 1952, an offshoot called Mahony Diners, Inc. lasted for only two years (1956-1958) and built only four diners. This is believed to be the one and only Mahony still in existence anywhere.

For over forty-five years it operated as the Royal Diner in Kingston, NY, going out of business in 2001. A group of Springfield businessmen purchased the building and moved it to Springfield in 2002. It has changed owners and operators a time or two since then, and has currently expanded its name to include “and Pancake House.”

Springfield long view

With its continuous line of windows, its resemblance inside to a railroad car is intentional. The interior retains its original pink counter and peach bakelite decor. At the far end is an open space for tables, while booths line the front wall.  Frame-built additions and a fancy rounded facade have been put on each end, but the original exterior is still visible. All cooking is done in a state-of-the-art kitchen added onto the back, and restrooms are off of the added dining room on one end. For more photos go here.

The place was mildly busy, and most of the customers seemed to be locals whom the waitress knew by name — usually a good sign. She was busy, but appropriately friendly. Still, something seemed to be missing from the ambiance of the place, and it may have been because  none of the cooking or prep was being done out front. It lacked the intimacy and sense of inclusion one gets in a more bustling diner. It was almost too pristine and too quiet.

BLT: My BLT was unremarkable, neither bad nor particularly good. I was surprised to see iceberg lettuce, since most of the diners have been using dark green leaf lettuce. Perhaps it is their retro acknowledgement of a 1950s culinary staple. The sandwich contained the usual cardboard tomato, in spite of late summer being the height of fresh tomato season, but at least they were generous with the tomato. The bacon was okay, the bread somewhat dry. I was given the choice of either chips or french fries, but no pickle was to be found. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 5 being average, I gave the BLT a (5).

Hamburger: Don chose a cheeseburger with Swiss cheese, and was pleased that it came with lettuce, tomato, raw onions, pickles, and mayo, as well as the choice of french fries or chips. The burger was thick and juicy, cooked the way he liked it, and he gave it (8).

French fries: Handcut, not too brown. Way too many for one person. (8)

Dessert: The only dessert offered was ice cream in vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate. Don, who is usually a diner dessert enthusiast, was not enthused. (0)

Prices:
BLT: $7.95, included choice of ripple chips or french fries. Compared to what came with the burger, it seemed overpriced, especially since I chose chips but there was no price differential.
Burger: $7.95, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo, and a choice of ripple chips or french fries.
Root beer: $1.79 for a 20-ounce glass, no refills offered.

Total bill before taxes and gratuity: $18.56

Service: Attentive, friendly. Food arrived within a reasonable amount of time. We had to ask about dessert, which was not offered before the bill was dropped off. (8)

Restrooms: Large, multi-stall, clean. Well-kept and appealing. (10)

Overall experience: 6

Contact information:

Springfield Royal Diner and Pancake House
363 River Street, (Route 106)
Springfield, Vermont 05156
(802) 591-4374

The website in their name is out of date by several years and totally inaccurate. They do have a current Facebook page. The diner is  open for breakfast and lunch only, closing at 2 p.m.

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