‘50s Diner Celebrates Era as it Exists in Owner’s Head


KALAMAZOO, MI – To step into the Blue Plate Diner is to return to an era when newspapers ruled the information highway, and the only tablet was the one waitresses used to take orders. Here customers can sip malts and munch on burgers while listening to Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly on the jukebox. Everything from the checkerboard floors to the chrome counters are reminiscent of a time when, according to owner Jim Smith, America was perfect.

The walls are covered with memorabilia from Smith’s youth, each item showcasing the best of the best from the best decade in history. “Back then Hollywood didn’t have sensitive pretty boys, it had real men like Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter,” Smith said. “And forget all that guilt about eating stuff that makes you happy,” he added, proudly showing off a menu swimming in sugar and saturated fats. “We ate what we liked and if we dropped dead of a heart attack at 55, we were proud to go out like real Americans.”

Smith was a man on a mission when he opened the diner in 1977. “America was in the crapper, what with women, minorities and gays all yelling about equal rights,” he said. “Sure, you could still drink your lunch and slap your secretary on the ass, but even that was starting to be frowned upon. People had forgotten how great life used to be, and I reminded them with greasy food, vintage Coca-Cola ads and the Fonz.”

With the restaurant set to celebrate its 40th anniversary next year, Smith credits his success to America’s slow descent into hell that began in 1960. “The world is insane. But in my diner there’s no argument about who can use the men’s room, women keep their legs crossed, and you can hang a ‘whites only’ sign on the counter without getting sued.” Smith then abruptly ended the interview, mumbling something about a case pending.

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