Valentine Diners

Here's a unique and vanishing slice of roadside Americana. These tiny buildings with a distinctive boxy shape and red & white paint job are called Valentine Diners. Typically seating only 8 to 10 patrons, these pre-fabricated cafes were manufactured for several decades beginning in the 1940's by a company started by entrepreneur Arthur Valentine, and were eventually located across the country. Relatively few still exist; those that are still open for business are rarer still. Shown here are four of the six surviving Valentine diners in Arizona, and one in New Mexico.




Welcome Diner

Phoenix, Arizona

[bizarre_valentine1.jpg]

At the time of my visit, this diner was closed and appeared to be undergoing an extensive renovation.
Directions: 924 E. Roosevelt Street (at 10th Street).
Last Visited: January 2010.


Highway Diner

Winslow, Arizona

[bizarre_66winslow_7421.jpg]

This diner (aka Monday's Cafe, aka Irene's) is on Old Route 66. At the time of my visit, the diner was closed; it is reportedly for sale (the interior photos below were taken through the windows).
Directions: 300 Block of East Second Street (across from the La Posada Hotel).
Last Visited: April 2010.

Other views (click to enlage):

bizarre_valentine6a.jpg
Exterior
    bizarre_valentine6b.jpg
Interior
    bizarre_valentine6c.jpg
Interior (grille)


Route 66 Diner

Sanders, Arizona

[bizarre_valentine4.jpg]

This diner has been modified and expanded so extensively that it is difficult to even recognize as a Valentine, at least from the outside. At the time of my latest visit (April 2010), the diner was open but a sign in the window said "For Sale By Owner."
Directions: Arizona Parks Estates #26 (just east of the post office).
Last Visited: April 2010.

Other views (click to enlage):

bizarre_valentine4a.jpg
Interior
    bizarre_valentine4b.jpg
Interior
    bizarre_valentine4c.jpg
Stools
    bizarre_valentine4d.jpg
Original receipts safe


Twin Arrows Cafe

Twin Arrows, Arizona

[bizarre_valentine2.jpg]

This diner on Old Route 66 and the adjacent trading post have been closed for years.
Directions: East of Flagstaff on the south side of Interstate 40 at exit 219, at the abandoned Twin Arrows truck stop.
Last Visited: April 2010.

Other views (click to enlage):

bizarre_valentine2a.jpg
Exterior
    bizarre_valentine2b.jpg
Interior
    bizarre_valentine2c.jpg
Interior


Dot's Diner

Bisbee, Arizona

[bizarre_valentine10.jpg]

This restored diner is on the grounds of the Shady Dell Trailer Park. Until recently, it was open and serving food, but the owner decided to close it rather than change the historic character of the building by making the renovations required to bring it up to the building code.
Directions: 1 Old Douglas Rd (accessible only to registered guests of the Shady Dell Trailer Park).
Last Visited: December 2018.

Other views (click to enlage):

bizarre_valentine10a.jpg
Interior
    bizarre_valentine10b.jpg
Interior
    bizarre_valentine10c.jpg
Dusk

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Evening
    bizarre_valentine10e.jpg
Night
    bizarre_valentine10f.jpg
Night


Police Substation

Albuquerque, New Mexico

[bizarre_valentine5.jpg]

This diner was previously known as the Little House Diner and the Albuquerque Diner, and was located at 8th and Central Avenue; it was later moved to this location and converted to an Albuquerque Police substation.
Directions: Triangle Park, Girard Boulevard and Central Avenue.
Last Visited: April 2010.

Other views (click to enlage):

bizarre_valentine5a.jpg
Evening
    bizarre_valentine5b.jpg
Evening
    bizarre_valentine5c.jpg
Neon Sign


The Diner

Tres Piedras, New Mexico

[bizarre_valentine9.jpg]

This Valentine Diner, simply named "The Diner," had a large dining room added to its front. Now, the long-closed diner is falling into ruin.
Directions: West side of Highway 285, 200 feet north of junction with Highway 64.
Last Visited: May 2019.

Other views (click to enlage):

bizarre_valentine9a.jpg
Front showing added dining area
    bizarre_valentine9b.jpg
Interior
    bizarre_valentine9c.jpg
Interior


Classical Gas Museum

Embudo, New Mexico

[bizarre_valentine8.jpg]

This Valentine diner, which was rescued from a junkyard near Santa Fe, is now the highlight of the Classical Gas Museum's collection of highway antiques. The proprieter has plans to restore the diner and open it as an ice cream shop.
Directions: NM-68 between Espaņola and Taos, near mile marker 18. Admission is free, but donations are accepted.
Last Visited: July 2017.



Red Top Diner

Edgewood, New Mexico

[bizarre_valentine7.jpg]

This closed diner (the sign on the door says "OUT TO LUNCH") is located in the parking lot of Wildlife West Nature Park.
Directions: 87 N. Frontage Rd.
Last Visited: July 2017.

Other views (click to enlage):

bizarre_valentine7a.jpg
Rear
    bizarre_valentine7b.jpg
Interior
    bizarre_valentine7c.jpg
Interior


Standard disclaimer: Sites are described for entertainment purposes only, as they were at the time of my last visit. I can not vouch for the current condition of the site or its accessibility.


Revised: August 1, 2020
Copyright © 2020 Joe Orman
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