Breakfast, burgers and milkshakes served in an American-style eatery with a 1950s vibe. This is Emma’s Diner, a family run 1950 – 1960 style restaurant located in the heart of the quaint and beautiful sea port town Whitby. The diner is a time capsule with plenty of retro details: from the vintage furniture in bright red colours, similar to the one found in the 1950s American dinners, to a retro rotary dial phone, its own jukebox, as well as wall art of Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe. Impressed by the retro design, we sat down with the owner to chat about the famous Emma’s Diner retro style restaurant.
For a retro-style lover, Emma’s Diner is the perfect place for you. The retro-American restaurant captures successfully the iconic, unforgettable period of the 1950s through its bold vintage style. Emma explains how the location came to be influenced by the golden age of Hollywood: “I left school at 16 (years old) and worked in restaurants. I did an apprenticeship in professional cookery. I worked in an array of food establishments, which was long hours but good pay. I always wanted my own restaurant so when the opportunity became available at a reasonable price, I just took a gamble. I have always loved 50’s and 60’s music. My nana – Elizabeth – was a huge fan of Elvis Presley. She always had his albums playing. I love the petticoats and swing dresses. I just wanted something different. As the years have progressed we’ve made it more alternative and unique.“
“All my staff have worked at the diner almost since day one. The girls are so hardworking and beautiful…they really look the part and fit the whole aesthetic.” Apart from being influenced by the style of a classic USA diner, we wanted to know how Emma’s customer service skills benefit her business: “I think that in order to run a successful business you need to be hands on! Don’t expect the staff to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself. The most important aspect of customer service, I personally think, is to remember that you are providing a service which the customers are paying for as soon as they enter our establishment. It’s our time to make them have a nice experience, make them feel special, like they are the first customer you have ever served. We can’t always get it right. Things do go wrong but we keep trying and improving.”
Emma’s Diner doesn’t fail to deliver a welcoming and enjoyable experience in the heart of its vintage interior. The menu includes original dishes found in the 1950s American diners, such as pancakes with a selection of traditional toppings (fresh berries, fresh whipped cream, maple syrup or chocolate being the most popular), homemade beef burgers, classic hot dogs topped with grilled onions, mustard, crispy bacon, pulled pork or cheddar cheese or southern fried chicken coated in their secret seasoning. But the most impressive are the signature milkshakes with Nutella, Oreo or Lemon. The full menu can be found on the official Facebook Page. The restaurant also offers a gluten free and a vegetarian menu, to make you feel good from inside out.
“I actually have a saying ‘smile your own stage’. When you work in the diner it almost is a bit of a role and performance. You’re dressed in your costume so role with it the customers love it and the staff do. I’m so grateful for my staff and customers. I appreciate very single one of them. Without them I wouldn’t have a business.”
Emma’s Diner has managed to bring to Whitby the spirit of the classic US period, with its strong accent colours and retro theme, homage to 1950s. The retro signage pays tribute to America’s pop culture, a time when icons such as Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley dominated the box office while the bloom of the Rock ‘n’ Roll swept the nation.