The White Mana Diner

Recently, I’ve been scouting New York looking for Detroit (don’t ask), a search that ultimately led to me to northern Jersey. As I was driving down down Tonnele Ave in Jersey City, I had to pull over and shoot what has to be one of the coolest diners I’ve ever come across, The White Mana Diner. Seriously, do diners get any better than this?

Diner 02

Originally minus the ugly brick addition on the left, the diner was created specifically for the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing, where it was exhibited as the “Diner of Tomorrow!” Apparently, it was designed so that a waiter never had to walk more than 10 feet to get to the grille, cash register, or counter.

Diner 01

According to this Jersey City: Past & Present article, after the World’s Fair ended, the diner was purchased by a restaurateur named Louis Bridges, who transported it to Jersey City where he opened it up as the White Manna Diner.

Diner 04

Why is it now the “White Mana Diner,” and not Manna? Apparently, in the 1980′s, their sign came back from being serviced missing an “n,” and rather than go through the trouble of getting a new sign, the owners decided to just rename it. The diner originally sold ten-cent hamburgers and offered curb service after 5 a.m. (sadly, a thing of the past).

Diner 07

In 1979, the diner was purchased by a former employee, Mario Costa, who kept it running through the mid-1990′s. In 1996, Costa sold the diner for $500,000, only to find that the new owners were planning to tear down the place to put in a fast food chain. He unsuccessfully sued the new owners to prevent this, and ultimately re-purchased it at a higher price than he sold it in order to save it.

Diner 05

In recent years, the property was deemed a “local landmark” by the Jersey City Council, which offers some protection against future demolition threats.

Diner 06

I didn’t have time to take interior pics, but here’s the circular dining counter area, pieced together by Flickr user iamdavid (check out his awesome diner/fast food restaurant pics here):

White Mana

Here’s a kitchen pic as shared by Flickr user A Continuous Lean (check out his great Mana pics here):

White Mana

There are four other White Manna restaurants in Jersey, but only one Mana that hails back to the World’s Fair. Next time, I’m stopping in for some sliders.

Diner 08

-SCOUT

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10 comments

  1. a few years ago, their hackensack location made gq’s “20 hamburgers you must eat before you die.” the building is great, but you missed the best part.

  2. I’d put the adorable, tiny White Manna in Hackensack up against the Tonnele Ave White Mana anyday:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/calliope/613386867/

    I ate there just this past Saturday. It’s got a nice interior:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/klg19/3966576252/in/photostream/

    and the counter gives a great view of the grill:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/klg19/3965799933/in/photostream/

  3. I used to work in Hackensack and went to the one there at least once a week. Your clothes would smell like burgers for the rest of the day, but OH LAWD it was worth it. The whole place is just a great experience. Highly recommended.

  4. I have to fourth the White Manna in Hackensack, on the picturesque bank of the Hackensack river.

    Delicious burgers.

  5. Really, if you liked this, you need to go to the one in Hackensack, thought by many to be the one from the World’s Fair, and the burgers are much better.

  6. Thanks for the very interesting article on a very nice looking diner. Next time I’m in Jersey City I’ll make a point to stop by and experience The White Man(n)a Diner.

  7. I was just thinking of the Hackensack White Manna last week. I was there once about 15 years. Yes, it left that much of a good impression!!

  8. I’ve eaten at the Mana in JC. No offense to those who like the one in Hackensack, but driving along Rt1 or coming through Jersey City with it’s crowded, busy streets, it’s like a great art-deco oasis with food that just makes you feel good.
    Have you seen the Summit Diner in Summit, NJ? Looks like a subway car and there’s no addition to break up the sight lines. Truly a classic.

  9. Thanks for the pictures. Made me homesick. I used to live and work in NJ in the 80s. Whenever I had to go to Jersey City I had to pass that diner and stopped there most of the time.

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