what will become of the frazer diner?

The Frazer Diner on Route 30 in Frazer has closed. I am honestly concerned about this site, which has been written about a slew of times and is actually in a book about diners.

I love old school diners. Sorry not sorry, it’s scrapple and eggs for me, or a diner burger and a fountain coke. Remember the diner days of years gone by where you would see the lemon meringue pies with their high hats of meringue in the cases with other desserts? I remember that from the original Minella’s in Wayne and this cool old diner in North Jersey

Anyway, the Frazer Diner is a truly cool example of an amazingly intact diner. And now they have closed. Research indicates the Cavalati family still owns it, the owners live in Mechanicsburg, PA. So they are far removed from this now, will they sell? Find a new tenant?

Why am I concerned? We hear the continued whispers of developers sniffing around East Whiteland and the Route 30/Lancaster Ave corridor. West Whiteland is a hotbed of bad development and neighboring Easttown is not much better along Lancaster Avenue is it? Just look at that new construction gargantuan and hideous apartments or whatever dwarfing the Berwyn Pub.

Originally manufactured in 1935[2](though some sites reference 1929), it was purchased by Frances and Sylvester Cavalati in 1957 and moved to its present location at 189 Lancaster Avenue, Frazer, Pennsylvania in East Whiteland Township. In 1972, while retaining ownership, they leased it to others to operate and the name was changed to the Frazer Diner.[3]

Around 1983, the diner was leased to Tam Nguyen and his wife Hao (law school graduate and nurse, respectively) who had fled communism in Vietnam and moved to the Main Line in 1980. They operated it as the Linh Diner, specializing in Vietnamese-Chinese food, and it became a regular lunch stop for nearby high-tech companies in the Great Valley. After five years building a successful business, they were running out of space and looking to move to a new location that was to be built as part of a new shopping center nearby. Before that happened, the Cavalati’s served the Nguyens an eviction notice, and noted there was a buyer who wanted to move the diner to Hollywood.[4]

The Nguyens did eventually open the Linh Restaurant nearby, but the diner was not moved to California, and eventually re-opened, once again as the Frazer Diner.

~ Wikipedia

Diners have a place in our hearts and communities. It doesn’t have to be haute cuisine. It’s a community gathering place historically, and some diners were just breakfast and lunch, some did 3 meals, some were open 24 hours.

I find today especially out here in Chester County, we lack a distinct variety from the most humble through to fine dining. We are a lot of formula food, fast food, sushi, brew pubs, quasi steak houses. The only good BBQ is Farm Boy, and they are a gem (hope they re-open soon!)

There always were historically good diners in Chester County. And one by one they are biting the dust. DK still holds court in West Chester. The West Chester Diner used to be pretty good, but the last couple of years it has sadly gone downhill. But West Chester Diner was always too big. Frazer like DK had that little joint feel, which I think is part of the whole diner experience.

The funny thing about the Frazer Diner is how often it has been written up in diner articles. I am putting into this post what I have discovered. I am putting this out there in the hopes someone saves it, or in the hopes that anyone is interested at all.

We need fewer crappy apartment and townhouse developments. How about adaptive reuse of literally a historic diner? Thanks for stopping by.


19 thoughts on “what will become of the frazer diner?

  1. So what can be done to keep development at bay? We’ve had this issue in Marshalton, but it is a primarily rural/residential are and the developers were kept away for nature conservation reason. What we have here is density and aesthetics. I really don’t understand the need for all the building. It’s not good for living things to be right on top of each other all the time. . . .

  2. I used to go to the diner south of West Chester. After it was moved to Truckee, I made sure to make a pilgrimage, as I was in the area.

    • The Birmingham Diner is in Truckee! Stumbled across it almost 20 years ago and was a bit surprised when realized what it was. At least it is preserved.

  3. Sorry to hear about the Frazer Diner closing. I hadn’t known about it but it sounds like a fun place. Reminds me of when The Trolley Car diner closed in W. Mt. Airy. Can’t get that kind of feel from any other type of restaurant. I moved from Philly to West Norriton just a few years ago so still exploring the whole area – do enjoy Minella’s in Wayne. The horrible overdevelopment is going on all over, unfortunately, and if I had the money, I wouldn’t choose to live along the main line or surrounding areas because it’s overpriced and being overwhelmed with awful design and not a care for the preservation of anything of historical value.

  4. Ham, scam and rye – served up with a few jokes and updates on what our kids were up to, End of an era! Best of luck to those who worked there when it closed!

  5. It’s been a rough time for diners. I think there is a growing appreciation for them, but they unfortunately seem to be going away faster than they can be protected. Philly’s Melrose Diner, which I thought was too iconic to ever close, has been sitting shuttered and awaiting demolition since last summer. If we lose this too it would be heartbreaking.

  6. So sad to read this article. The Frazer Diner has been part of our family for over 24 years. If it doesn’t reopen, I would love to purchase some things from inside. The place has so many memories for us!!!

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