In the interest of creating a diner to the theme of a by-gone era, Five and Dime Diner owner Dale Wagner said it's his and his partner Michael Orrico's hope that their diner acts as a first step in the restoration of a downtown Williamsport of 50 years ago.
The retro-diner concept at 321 Pine St. allows for a fun atmosphere, Wagner said, that appeals to all ages.
"The older patrons enjoy remembering the good old days and looking at the pictures of the old downtown," Wagner said. "The younger ones have a renewed interest in everything retro, especially the oldies on the jukebox. And the kids just like the hot dogs and bunny pancakes."
Monica Charles, left, and Dallas Grove, both of Williamsport, have lunch at the Five and Dime Diner on Pine Street in Williamsport. The diner seeks to recreate the ambiance of several diners that used to populate the downtown area.
The diner opened last fall, and according to Wagner, it has been "an excellent first year."
The 1950s-style restaurant keeps in line with the essence of the era, which houses soda fountains, vinyl booth, chrome and formica tables and an old jukebox stacked with music from the '50s, '60s and '70s.
With an atmosphere fit for the past, customers can enjoy a meal that also falls in line for some good, throwback eating.
"Diners have always been known for their good, hearty home cooking and the Five and Dime Diner is no exception," Wagner said. "We use all ingredients from local vendors with recipes from our mothers, grandmothers and aunts."
That home-cooked meal aspect of the diner was one of the reasons why he and Orrico decided to open up the dining venue, as it would be a place for fresh, home-cooked comfort food at a good price.
"There are so many good high-end restaurants in town," Wagner said, "so we wanted to create something for families, college students and the downtown lunch crowd to get a plain, home-cooked meal at a reasonable price - comfort food they can enjoy without getting all dressed up."
Wagner said the restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day and after hours on weekends, so the downtown bar patrons can get breakfast before driving home.
"Which is a good thing," Wagner added.
The Sunday brunch is popular with the after-church crowd, he said.
The co-owner describes his business as a comfortable place that creates a lot of dinner conversation.
"Our older patrons tell us stories about the old downtown and even bring us relics from that era to put in the diner," he added.
The diner is housed in a building that was home to the old Kresge's and Woolworth's, an old five- and-tens space.
"We figured what better place to rekindle a piece of the old downtown that we knew as kids," Wagner said.
Recalling the days when downtown Williamsport was the hub of activity, Wagner hopes the diner will act as a catalyst for a reinvention of downtown, and bring back the spirit of a time he fondly remembers.
"I think we're bringing a lot of new people into downtown and they see how safe the area really is," Wagner said. "We look forward to more stores and restaurants opening in the future to bring back the days when downtown was the center of socializing, dining and shopping."