Remember the Red Rose Diner on Route 6 – Towanda, Pennsylvania
Back in 2016, I made a stop on Route 6 in Towanda, Pennsylvania to enjoy lunch at the counter of the Red Rose Diner. As I was leaving, the owner took my picture as he apparently did often with motorcycle riders, and he shared it on the diner’s Facebook page.
My love for the vintage diner eating experience is fairly well documented. Each stop offers a nostalgic bite of the past. There is something comforting in the setting, the waitress who calls you “hon,” or watching your food be cooked on the grill as you swivel at a counter stool.
The Red Rose had personalized flourishes of art and messaging, and vintage-styled signage which I loved. Outside lettering let me know that ladies were invited which tickled me, and how many thousands of miles it would take me to get to the far east and west coasts on Route 6.
Sitting at the counter that day back in 2016 it would have been hard to imagine that this little diner would being anything other than what it was, forever and ever. It was a survivor. It had heart. I rode away content knowing that such a place found a way to seemingly thrive in a largely homogenized commercial America.
On a foggy September morning in 2021, just five years later a wave of unexpected disappointment washed over me as I pulled up expecting home fries and an omelette, only to find that the Red Rose Diner had shuttered. The steps where I begrudgingly had my photo taken, had rotted through.
As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever. As people we know this. And yet when we are faced with that reality it is still met with surprise time and time again.
All of the life and the flavor that filled the little diner, the coffee the pumped through its veins was gone. What remained that foggy morning in 2021 was the dingy decaf version of what I’d remembered, and a lone yellow light shining not unlike like the green one at the end of Daisy’s dock.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
In September of 2023, I found myself once again passing through Towanda, Pennsylvania on Route 6. Approaching the space where the Red Rose diner sits, I didn’t have any expectations about what I would find. As a green shape came into view, I questioned whether the Red Rose was up one more block. But as the building came into view, it was obviously the diner.
Surprise! While I must admit, seeing the vintage styling green-washed wasn’t “perfect” it was still better than seeing the diner further deteriorated. Beggars can’t be choosers.
The rotten stairs were repaired. The “Ladies Invited” writing was in the process of being fully painted over. You can still see the relief of the “Welcome Towanda Route 6 Travelers” sign where its been painted over on the right.
There wasn’t any signage or indication of what is happening with the diner. So, my hope is that the next time I pass through town I’ll be able to get that omelette I’d been hoping for.
This little rollercoaster with the Red Rose is a perfect example of how fortunes change in a relatively short span of time. We take places for granted, we assume that hallmarks of local life will always be there because they’ve always been there. Stop and take the pictures. Savor these institutions that add localized flavor to the world. You never know when they will fade into obscurity.