Modern Diner, USModernist

The Modern Diner on East Street, in Pawtucket, R.I. (Facebook)

Great good news! I just now learned that, after half a year of closure, the excellent Modern Diner, in Pawtucket, has reopened. There is, I should say, nothing modern about the Modern Diner, just a ways down Hope Street, then East Street after Hope enters the Bucket, from where I live in historic Providence. I am a regular. It serves the best breakfasts ever – fried eggs over hard, break the yolk, bacon, home fries (perfecto!), rye toast and OJ – and is famous for its comfort food. It is modern in the sense that it exists today, and that, as some insist, its Art Deco design is modern, as in modernist (not really, but we’ll let it go). The Modern Diner is a delicious, friendly place that’s been around a long time, 80 years, the last 28 with the same owner.

Nothing modern about that!

There are restrictions, of course, and reservations are required (at a diner!). Covid still stalks among us.

Coincidentally, the Modern Diner’s reopening came just a few days before I was interviewed on the USModernist podcast – an experience that, despite what readers of my blog must think, was almost traditional, even classical, in its comfort and friendliness. It was almost as delightful as a breakfast at the Modern Diner. George Smart, the host and all-round maestro of the website, is such a good egg. The motto of USModernist is “Architecture You Love.” It goes on to say: “Join Mr. Modernism George Smart and crew as they talk and laugh with people who enjoy, own, create, dream about, preserve, love, and hate Modernist architecture.” I, of course, fall into the final category, and George’s Smart’s eggness is so good that he was nice to me even after I’d spent 45 minutes upending his motto. He even refused to interrupt my monologizing. What a guy! Few talk show hosts let you run with your ideas. He is known as Mr. Modernism, and his first question was about my old nickname, Dr. Downtown, from my occasional “Ask Dr. Downtown” columns at the Providence Journal. (I promised to send him some examples.)

I hope he comes to Providence. I would love to bestow upon him a meal at the Modern Diner.


About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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6 Responses to Modern Diner, USModernist

  1. Pingback: Food/Lifestyle: Modern Diner, USModernist — Architecture Here and There – The Urban Fishing Pole: Cigar Blogger, Lifestyle

  2. barry schiller says:

    before covid I was part of a monthly retirees breakfast group that tried to eat in all the old fashioned diners still around, partly from nostalgia, partly from trying to help them survive, and partly from usually getting a good deal on breakfast. Besides the Modern Diner, I remember Sea Plane Diner on Allens, West Side Diner on Westminster, Geneva Diner on Douglas, and we were going to go to the restored Lorraine Diner in Pawtucket when covid hit.
    Diners were loosely based on railroad dining cars, and I recall wen first coming to RI in 1966 and my parents lived in NY, several times I took the New Haven’s “Merchants Limited” to see them which had a full service dining car, so I got to experience that before it was taken off. Enjoyment of an old fashioned railroad dining car as in the movies is hard to come be in today’s world, even on the French high-speed TGV trains I found eating a hurried experience in stark ugly modern surroundings you wouldn’t want to hang around in. Another loss…


  3. Pingback: “Ask Dr. Downtown” revisited | Architecture Here and There

  4. leveveg says:

    Even better, ATMosfera, a moving dinner tram through old Milan:


  5. John the First says:

    What is fundamentally specific about modernity? it is a diminishing of suffering and burden, which is a diminishing of heaviness, which means an increase of lightness. Work hours are shorter, heavy work is done more and more by machines. Leisure time has increased, increase of education and knowledge.
    The real modernism is these forms which will by necessity reflect this in a multitude of ways, also depending on the culture and geographical location. It will also be elegant and gracious (light), it will also find balance between embellishment and functionality.
    Anti authoritarianism is also typical of modernity, this will be the end of all too grand structures which signal authority…

    Contemporary modernism is merely a crude messing around, traditionalists all too often are merely attached to old forms, it is going to take lots and lots of people and knowledge to bring about news ways. Current modernism will sink into oblivion as the experiments of barbarism, the traditional will be source of inspiration (aside of the knowledge of engineering), but both contemporary modernists and traditionalists will have to leave the stage.


  6. LazyReader says:

    The Greasy Spoon, the quintisential eating place. so revered it has it’s own lexicon
    – 86 it – Hold/cancel
    – axle grease – Butter
    – eve with a lid – apple pie
    – Adam juice – water
    – bow wow – hot dog
    – Checkerboard – waffles
    – Cowboy w/ spurs – western omelette with fries
    – Guess water – soup of the day
    – jewish round – bagel
    – life preserver – donut
    – Machine oil – syrup
    – sand: sugar
    – on the hoof – cooked rare
    – shit on a shingle – Chipped beef on toast
    – tube steak – hot dog
    – wreckem – scrambled eggs


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