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Modern Diner – First Diner on National Historic Register Pawtucket, RI

Posted on: February 3, 2010

  • Phone: (401) 726-8390
  • Handy: Cash only, breakfast & lunch

When I sent up a flare asking for Retro Roadmap-worthy places to visit in Rhode Island  my pal Bill who lives in Arizona now but worked in the smallest state insisted that I eat at the Modern Diner in Pawtucket RI during my short jaunt home – and I was happy to oblige. Built in 1941, it is one of the few remaining Sterling Streamliner diners -easy to recognize by their “art deco train speeding down the track” look – and is the first diner ever to be placed on the National Historic Register.

Modern DinerThe Modern is quite a beauty,  with her cream and burgundy enameled panels and fab sign. I thank the folks at for clueing me into the fact that the reason the Modern is straight on one end is because in it’s original location in downtown it was snugged up against a building – I always thought it looked kinda weird!

I was up against a few obstacles during my visit to the diner in the fact that I did not realize ’til I was scrambling around in my purse that I had spent most of my cash with the Retro Roadkids the day before, and the diner is cash only. Also I was playing beat the clock as it was just about 1:30pm and they close at 2pm on a Sunday. Hence the fulfilling and affordable 2 eggs over with toast with a breakfast potato bonus, thought the diner is known for having more adventurous fare.

Modern BreakfastI asked for and was able to have a seat at the counter in the original part of the diner, and frankly did not even glance into the newly added on dining room portion. It seemed like most folks wanted to sit in the actual diner itself,  with a key seat being the booth in the curved portion “at the front of the train”.

Photos of the interior of the diner would’ve revealed that the place was packed and bustling this Sunday morning, with folks streaming in-perhaps from church? and servers here there and everywhere. It was a nice scene, to know that this place is still thriving, and Bill, I thank you for the reminder of this historic diner just off 95!

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  • Bill

    On my way to or from work in East Providence, the Modern was always my favorite place to stop for a bite to eat! I was so glad to see you stopped there and your current visit brought back great memories. I too, used to have to rush to get there before the 2pm closing time! A classic!

    • Bill, I’m so glad you reminded me of it- it’s totally Retro Roadmap-worthy! Glad you have fond memories of it- for some reason I think I have a photo from an article about Velvet Crush (written by our own Brett Milano) and they’re sitting at the counter, that’s always a swell memory for me of driving to RI for shows at Lupos’ and Babyhead.

  • This place is a beauty makes me proud to live in Rhode Island.

  • Gunnar- I realized when I took the long way through RI that I haven’t given it a proper once over in a long time- it appears to have a number of totally Retro Roadmapworthy places in it for sure! If you’re ever interested in coming up with your top 5-10 RI places for Retro Roadmappers I’d love to share it! Always good to get a local’s perspective, I’m sure there are some hidden gems us out of towners don’t know about!

  • I love it. What is the interior like?