While we had planned plenty of stops planned for our Retro Roadweekend away, we hadn’t planned on seeing the bright neon signs of the Amherst Diner in Winchester, VA.
But as soon as we did we knew where we were eating breakfast the next morning!
Not a diner in the strict “built off-site in a factory, hauled out to the foundation” type of northern diner I’m so fond of, The Amherst is a more loose, “hey we’ve got booths and counter service” interpretation of the D word. I’ll take it, especially since the place has been around, “since the early 1960s” according to the fellow behind the counter. As you can tell from this shot, the place is quite tiny, with no more than a dozen seats at the curved counter, and just as many small booths, both in the main entrance part and the alcove just past the counter.
While Retro Roadhusband opted for a more traditional breakfast, I ponied up some extra cash and got real Country Ham with my eggs. Country ham is a salty meaty treat found south of the Mason Dixon line, and since Virginia is known for this delicacy, how could I resist?
The Amherst diner is a popular place and as we sat near the entrance we could not help notice the steady stream of folks jockeying for the next seat or booth for their Saturday breakfast fix. Since RRH and I are kind folks, we quickly vacated our spots after our tasty meal. And as luck would have it, our kindness was rewarded!
As RRH paid the tab inside, I stepped into the vestibule, hoping to snap a photo of the air conditioning logo that I had spotted as we entered the building. While I tend to be phobic about taking photos with other people in close quarters, I AM getting better at it, so I was only a little flustered when someone came up next to me as I was framing this shot.
(I’m not the only person smitten with this logo and door pull…just ask my Flickr pal Loungelistener ! Great minds think alike )
Turns out that the person at my elbow was a friendly gent, who chatted with me about air conditioning, movie theatres, The Blob, and Phoenixville. When we mentioned Retro Roadmap and that we were in town just for a short visit he immediately offered up information on a local 2 screen drive in movie theatre located just south of Winchester, in Stephens City. With a thank you and a promise to check it out, we headed out the door, while this nice man and his wife got the next booth inside.
While our fun day trip took us too far into the night to catch a movie at the Family Drive-In, I was able to snap a photo of the great neon that lights up the back of one of the screens. As you know we have a soft spot for the dwindling number of drive ins, so on the map it goes! Opened in 1956, it’s the only drive-in left in Northern VA and the closed Drive In to DC.
334 Amherst Street
Winchester, VA 22601-3839
Family Drive-In Theatre
5890 U.S. 11
Stephens City, VA 22655
View VA – Virginia Retro RoadMAP in a larger map