Tierney Dining Cars

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Tierney Dining Cars was an American brand of lunch wagons at the beginning of the 20th century. Its origins can be traced to 1895, when the business founder Patrick J. Tierney began to build truck-based cars modeled after railroad dining cars. This eventually resulted in a business that manufactured prefabricated diners, which was incorporated in 1922 and ceased trading in 1933.

Food truck Truck used for carrying and selling food

A food truck is a large vehicle equipped to cook and sell food. Some, including ice cream trucks, sell frozen or prepackaged food; others have on-board kitchens and prepare food from scratch. Sandwiches, hamburgers, french fries, and other regional fast food fare is common. In recent years, associated with the pop-up restaurant phenomenon, food trucks offering gourmet cuisine and a variety of specialties and ethnic menus, have become particularly popular. Food trucks, along with portable food booths and food carts, are on the front line of the street food industry that serves an estimated 2.5 billion people every day.

Dining car rail vehicle serving meals cooked on board

A dining car or a restaurant car, also a diner, is a railroad passenger car that serves meals in the manner of a full-service, sit-down restaurant.

Diner prefabricated restaurant building characteristic of American life

A diner is a small restaurant found predominantly in the Northeastern United States and Midwestern United States, as well as in other parts of the US, Canada, and parts of Western Europe and Lebanon. Diners offer a wide range of foods, mostly American cuisine, a casual atmosphere, and, characteristically, a combination of booths served by a waitstaff and a long sit-down counter with direct service, in the smallest simply by a cook. Most diners have extended hours, and some along highways and areas with significant shift work that stays open for 24 hours.



Patrick J. Tierney was the son of an Irish immigrant. In 1895, at the age of 29, he started a chain of lunch wagons. Reinvesting the profits, by 1905 he had 38 outlets operating 24 hours per day in strategic locations. These outlets had been built by Thomas H. Buckley [lower-alpha 1] but in 1905 he began constructing his own units in a garage behind his house at Cottage Place, New Rochelle, New York. [2]

Irish people Ethnic group with Celtic and other roots, native to the island of Ireland, with shared history and culture

The Irish are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to the island of Ireland, who share a common Irish ancestry, identity and culture. Ireland has been inhabited for about 12,500 years according to archaeological studies. For most of Ireland's recorded history, the Irish have been primarily a Gaelic people. Viking invasions of Ireland during the 8th to 11th centuries established the cities of Dublin, Wexford, Waterford, Cork and Limerick. Anglo-Normans conquered parts of Ireland in the 12th century, while England's 16th/17th-century (re)conquest and colonisation of Ireland brought a large number of English and Lowland Scots people to parts of the island, especially the north. Today, Ireland is made up of the Republic of Ireland and the smaller Northern Ireland. The people of Northern Ireland hold various national identities including British, Irish, Northern Irish or some combination thereof.

New Rochelle, New York City in New York, United States

New Rochelle is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States, in the southeastern portion of the state.

The increased use of automobiles at this time meant that new zoning laws were restricting or even banning on-street food outlets, and thus forcing vendors to find fixed locations from which to sell. [3] Simultaneously, lunch wagons were developing a reputation as disreputable due to the prevalence of cheap conversions of dilapidated horsecars, which were being sold off as New York's public transport transitioned to electric streetcars. The innovative Tierney, who coined the word diner, [4] saw an opportunity: intending his static units to resemble railroad dining cars, [4] he produced items of quality using, for example, electric lighting rather than kerosene lamps and replacing the outside toilets with interior ones. Initially selling his prefabricated diners for US$1,000 each, and often offering flexible payment terms, Tierney died a millionaire in 1917. [2] [5] [6]

Street food ready-to-eat food or drink on a street

Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold by a hawker, or vendor, in a street or other public place, such as at a market or fair. It is often sold from a portable food booth, food cart, or food truck and meant for immediate consumption. Some street foods are regional, but many have spread beyond their region of origin. Most street foods are classed as both finger food and fast food, and are cheaper on average than restaurant meals. According to a 2007 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization, 2.5 billion people eat street food every day.

Horsecar animal-powered tram or streetcar

A horsecar, horse-drawn tram, or (U.S.) horse-drawn streetcar, is an animal-powered tram or streetcar.

History of transportation in New York City

Transportation in New York City has ranged from strong Dutch authority in the 17th century, expansionism during the industrial era in the 19th century and half of the 20th century, to cronyism during the Robert Moses era. The shape of New York City's transportation system changed as the city did, and the result is an expansive modern-day system of industrial-era infrastructure. New York City, being the most populous city in the United States, has a transportation system which includes one of the largest subway systems in the world; the world's first mechanically ventilated vehicular tunnel; and an aerial tramway.

Tierney's sons, Edward J. and Edgar T. Tierney, then formed the partnership of P. J. Tierney Sons, which took over and carried on their father's business. The partnership became an incorporated company – P. J. Tierney Sons, Inc. – with the shareholders being the two brothers and their uncle, Daniel Tierney. [7] The company claimed to manufacture one dining car each day and was, according to Andrew Hurley, "easily the most prolific of the prewar dining car manufacturers as well as a seedbed for other firms". Among the manufacturing businesses that were created by former employees were the Fodero Dining Car Company and the Kullman Dining Car Company. [6] Unlike most of their competitors, the Tierney factory was some miles from a railroad and so the company created an in-house trucking department. [8]

Fodero Dining Car Company American diner car manufacturer

The Fodero Dining Car Company (1933–1981) was a diner manufacturer located in Newark and later Bloomfield, New Jersey. It was founded by Italian immigrant Joseph Fodero, who formed the company after constructing diners with P. J. Tierney Sons and Kullman Industries.

Kullman Dining Car Company, established in Newark, New Jersey in 1927, originally manufactured diners. The company expanded and later became the Kullman Building Corporation. It relocated to Avenel and finally to Clinton Township(with corporate offices in Lebanon) and over the years production grew to include prefabricated housing, dormitories, prisons, schools, banks, equipment buildings of cellular communications towers. It also built the first pre-fabricated United States Embassy in Guinea-Bissau in West Africa. The company is known for incorporating the use of new materials, such as stainless steel and formica, as they were developed and applying technologies developed through construction of diners to other buildings and is credited with introducing the term accelerated construction The company re-organized in bankruptcy and Kullman Industries went out off business in 2011. XSite Modular (www.xsitemodular.com), a company formed by the management team that left prior to Kullman going out of business, now owns all the Kullman Intellectual Property purchased at auction.

Aside from manufacturing cars, for which they also offered operational training courses for new owners, [5] the Tierney brothers also established the Tierney Operating Company in 1923. The purpose of this listed company was to open one new company-owned diner per week on average, over a period of four years. The brothers signed over all of their existing cars in New Jersey, New York and Westchester County to the company and offered half of its 500,000 shares to the public. [9]

New Jersey State of the United States of America

New Jersey is a state in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is a peninsula, bordered on the north and east by the state of New York; on the east, southeast, and south by the Atlantic Ocean; on the west by the Delaware River and Pennsylvania; and on the southwest by the Delaware Bay and Delaware. New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by area but the 11th-most populous, with 9 million residents as of 2017, making it the most densely populated of the 50 U.S. states with its biggest city being Newark. New Jersey lies completely within the combined statistical areas of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey was the second-wealthiest U.S. state by median household income as of 2017.

New York (state) State of the United States of America

New York is a state in the Northeastern United States. New York was one of the original thirteen colonies that formed the United States. With an estimated 19.54 million residents in 2018, it is the fourth most populous state. In order to distinguish the state from the city with the same name, it is sometimes referred to as New York State.

Share (finance) single unit of ownership in a corporation, mutual fund, or any other organization

In financial markets, a share is a unit used as mutual funds, limited partnerships, and real estate investment trusts. The owner of shares in the corporation/company is a shareholder of the corporation. A share is an indivisible unit of capital, expressing the ownership relationship between the company and the shareholder. The denominated value of a share is its face value, and the total of the face value of issued shares represent the capital of a company, which may not reflect the market value of those shares.

Edgar Tierney ceased involvement and sold his share of the business to his brother in February 1926. In September that year the company ran into financial difficulties, causing Edward and Daniel Tierney to sell their controlling interest and then, in July 1927, their entire interest. Edgar, Edward and Daniel had formed Tierney Brothers, Inc. in February 1927 with the intention of competing against P. J. Tierney, Inc. This business, based at Mount Vernon, New York, solicited orders, allegedly by misrepresenting to be a continuation of the P. J. Tierney concern. It commenced production but delivered nothing because a restraining order was imposed that prevented them from using their name. [7] [10]

Mount Vernon, New York City in New York, United States

Mount Vernon is a city in Westchester County, New York, United States. It is an inner suburb of New York City, immediately to the north of the borough of the Bronx. As of the 2010 census, Mount Vernon had a population of 67,292.

Restraining order order used by a court to protect a person or entity

A restraining order or protective order is an order used by a court to protect a person, business, company, establishment, or entity, and the general public, in a situation involving alleged domestic violence, assault, harassment, stalking, or sexual assault. In the United States, every state has some form of domestic violence restraining order law, and many states also have specific restraining order laws for stalking and sexual assault.

In 1929, Edward J. Tierney was involved with the Roadateria company, a short-lived business that made a product described as a "combination dining car, lunch car and road stand". Just before he died in 1946, he tried again with a company called Tierney Diners, Inc. but that, too, produced nothing beyond the design phase. [10]

The dining car industry managed to continue expanding during the Great Depression but there was some significant restructuring. P. J. Tierney, Inc. ceased trading in 1933, although remnants of it passed into what is now DeRaffele Manufacturing. [11]

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The DeRaffele Manufacturing Company was established in 1933 as Johnson & DeRaffele in New Rochelle, NY. The Company fabricated diners in the old P. J. Tierney plant after the Tierney company had been liquidated in 1933. Later they added banks, restaurants and other modular buildings to their scope of services. DeRaffele is currently the largest manufacturer of diners. It also now specializes in diner renovations.



  1. Formerly a worker in a lunch wagon, Thomas H. Buckley had begun manufacturing them in Worcester, Massachusetts from the late 1880s. The originator of the concept was Walter Scott who, in 1872, adapted a covered wagon in Rhode Island for the purpose. [1]


  1. Engber, Daniel (May 2, 2014). "Who Made That Food Truck?". The New York Times Magazine.
  2. 1 2 Gutman, Richard (1993). American Diner Then and Now (Reprinted ed.). JHU Press. pp. 42–48. ISBN   978-0-80186-536-7.
  3. Smith, Andrew F. (2013). Food and Drink in American History: A "Full Course" Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 275. ISBN   978-1-61069-233-5.
  4. 1 2 Jakle, John A.; Sculle, Keith A. (2002). Fast Food: Roadside Restaurants in the Automobile Age (Reprinted, revised ed.). JHU Press. p. 36. ISBN   978-0-80186-920-4.
  5. 1 2 Witzel, Michael Karl (2006). The American Diner. MBI. pp. 49–50. ISBN   978-0-76032-434-9.
  6. 1 2 Hurley, Andrew (2008). Diners, Bowling Alleys, And Trailer Parks: Chasing The American Dream In The Postwar Consumer Culture. Basic Books. p. 34. ISBN   978-0-78674-374-2.
  7. 1 2 "Casetext". casetext.com. Retrieved 2016-01-12.
  8. Gutman, Richard (1993). American Diner Then and Now (Reprinted ed.). JHU Press. p. 80. ISBN   978-0-80186-536-7.
  9. Gutman, Richard (1993). American Diner Then and Now (Reprinted ed.). JHU Press. p. 64. ISBN   978-0-80186-536-7.
  10. 1 2 Gutman, Richard (1993). American Diner Then and Now (Reprinted ed.). JHU Press. pp. 238, 241. ISBN   978-0-80186-536-7.
  11. Butko, Brian A.; Patrick, Kevin Joseph (1999). Diners of Pennsylvania. Stackpole Books. p. 8. ISBN   978-0-81172-878-2.

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