WESTFIELD, NJ – It was a local icon, loved by retirees and teenagers, teachers and real estate brokers, office workers and police officers. The Excellent Diner, a dining car eatery on North Avenue across from the train station, was a Westfield tradition for 20 years before its owners sold it in 1995 to a German buyer who had it shipped overseas with the dream of making it his country’s first American-style diner.
Eventually, the diner was sold to Euro Disneyland, revealed Robert Wendel, vice president of community relations for the Westfield Historical Society.
Wendel is uncertain of the diner’s current whereabouts, but a Disneyland Paris website listing of featured restaurants at the park shows a photo of a classic dining car that could very well be the Excellent Diner. Click here to see for yourself: could the Excellent Diner be Café des Cascadeurs?
Some Westfield residents fondly recall the quick service, generous portions and easy conversation among patrons and workers that made the Excellent Diner a favorite.
“It was fun,” said Wendel, who recalled the tall stacks of pancakes and delectable bacon-lettuce-and tomato sandwiches served there.
“It was a neat experience because it was like walking back into the 1950s,” he said.
Steve and Harriet Frasiolas opened the diner in 1975, according to a July 1995 article in The Star Ledger that honored the Excellent Diner in the days before it closed. The tiny restaurant was filled with the sounds of “dishes clanking” and “bacon and hamburgers hissing on the grill,” reporter Andrea Orlando wrote at the time.
“The owners were very friendly, always asked how you were,” said Sheila Hughes, who went to the diner with friends for breakfast as a teenager growing up in Westfield.
“The diner was small, so you could easily chat with people,” she said.
Hughes, who is a coordinator at the Westfield Area YMCA, said the Excellent Diner was among the few places in town where teenagers felt welcome to gather. She still reminisces about her favorite dish.
“They had great French toast with eggs and potatoes,” she said.
Jerry O’Mahony, Inc., for decades a leading manufacturer of dining cars, built the diner in 1947 in Elizabeth. This style of diner can be recognized by its “streamlined beauty,” rounded corners and stainless steel trim, according to a vintage sales brochure posted online.
At the end of their 20-year lease, the Frasiolas sold the diner for $60,000 to Bernd Richter, who had the building transported to Wasserlassen, Germany. After mad cow disease in the region caused business to slump, the diner was again sold to Euro Disney, Wendel said.
The café shown on the Disneyland Paris website serves hamburgers and is said to be “hugely popular.” The site advises guests to make reservations at least two months prior to their visit.