Franks Diner

Franks Diner

Franks Diner in Kenosha, Wisconsin is a Jerry O’Mahoney lunch car diner built in Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1926, the dining car was transported on a railroad flat car to Kenosha. It was then pulled by six horses to the downtown spot, near the shoreline of Lake Michigan, where it stands today. Anthony Franks, who first learned of the restaurant opportunity through a magazine article, paid $7,500 plus $325 in shipping charges to launch Franks Diner. Over the years, there have been few changes in the structural appearance of the Franks Diner. The original lunch car has an open grill and counter with 18 stools. A small dining room, which now contains seven booths, was added in 1935 and a larger kitchen in the mid 1940s. The Franks family operated Franks Diner continuously until 2001 when they sold it to the current owners Lynn Groleau and Chris Schwartz.

Many renovations have been completed on Franks Diner since 2001. The original kitchen, then pantry, was renovated into an additional dining area. The arched wooden ceiling and much woodwork was restored. Removing layers of paint uncovered the original “FRANKS DINER” hand-lettered sign painted on what was the outer side of the original dining car, now facing the inside of the main dining area.

In past years, Vaudeville and other entertainment acts at local theaters were popular. Many performers, including The Three Stooges, Bela Lugosi, Duke Ellington, Liberace and members of the Lawrence Welk orchestra, dined at Franks. Recent celebrity sightings include Chicago news anchor, Ron Magers; Lonnie Quinn of “All My Children”, “Santa Barbara” and current Chief Meteorologist for CBS in New York; Michael Schumacher, author of Crossroads: The Life and Music of Eric Clapton, Dharma Lion: A Critical Biography of Allen Ginsberg, Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald; and, Peter Tork, band member of The Monkeys. The most recent celebrity sighting is Food Network host, Guy Fieri (pronounced 'fee-eddie'), of “Guy’s Big Bite” and “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.”

Franks Diner was featured on the Food Network series "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" in May 2007. In addition to this national exposure, Franks Diner also has been featured on WGN channel 9 in Chicago. On August 4 2004 The New York Times interviewed Franks Diner patrons as part of the story “An American Debate: How Severe the Threat?” Franks Diner has been featured in numerous travel magazines, newspapers and on radio programs.

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