NJ - Jersey City: White Mana Diner
The White Mana Diner, located at 470 Tonnele Avenue, was built as the "diner of the future" for the 1939 New York World's Fair (commemorated in the side panels) in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens. The futuristic art deco diner, touted as an "Introduction to Fast Food," was built by Paramount Diner of Oakland, NJ. Louis Bridges, who owned five "White Manna" diners across the state, purchased the diner at brought it to Jersey City, opening on June 2, 1946, offering ten-cent hamburgers. The second "n" in the name was dropped sometime in the 1980s. Carhop service to five a.m., begun in the 1950s, was discontinued in the 1980s. The White Mana Diner, however, still remains open 24 hours a day, reportedly selling 3,000 hamburgers a week. The exterior of the diner was altered with brick construction when a dining room was added to the circular grill area.
The current owner Mario Costa, bought the diner for $80,000 in 1979 from Bridges’ brother Webster, who had been renting to Costa but was was going to raze the building. Costa, who worked at the diner sweeping the floor and cooking burgers to put himself through high school and Jersey State College, decided to sell the diner and lot in 1996. However, when he discovered the buyer intended to demolish for a fast food franchise, he went to court and negotiated for the repurchase of the business at additional cost.
The Jersey City Historic Preservation Committee declared the diner a local landmark in 1997, which helps secure the preservation of the familiar building and the signage "HAMBURGERS SINCE 1946" and "CURB SERVICE."