S & B Diner Opened On Court Street, But Later Added A Factory Street Location
Located on Court Street, 233 specifically, the beginning of the S & B Diner (S & B being Clark Sherman and Loyd Blanding) has a rather intriguing beginning as it was located next to the original location of the Eleanor Lunch Wagon, aka the Eleanor Diner, which created much confusion until a diner car enthusiast provided some ledger records of the cars showing where each went.
In the July 15, 1926 edition of the Watertown Daily Times, it was noted–
Pullman Diner To Be Opened As Restaurant
A Pullman diner will be installed as a restaurant at 231 Court Street Saturday, it was announced today by Alvin J. Jerge, proprietor of the car. The diner arrived here this morning from East Aurora, coming to this city by rail.
The restaurant will be equipped with the latest fixtures and will have a black marble counter for service. The car is equipped with an electric refrigerator and other modern equipment. The value of the car is estimated at $8,000. A similar restaurant has been successfully operated in East Aurora for the past three years.
This would be diner #69: Alvin Jerge, Court St. Watertown, NY, $6500 Shipped July 7, 1926. A second diner car was shipped to Watertown on On August 25, 1927, from Cleveland after a restaurant there had failed. This evidently was for the Eleanor Diner once it reopened on State Street. Advertisements in the classified ads began to be placed for help wanted at the location, under the name of the Eleanor Diner, or Eleanor Lunch Wagon, which opened in 1927 on the corner of State Street and Armstrong Place where Solomon’s Temple stood.
But what happened to the original car? Initially, it was believed that it was moved to the neighboring lot and became the S & B Diner, but it would be several years before it opened. As it turned out, the original Pullman car was sold and shipped off to Ogdensburg, where it became the Crescent Diner. In 1933 – 34, there was another record of a Pullman car being transferred to Watertown from when the Blandings moved here to start the S & B Diner, which they ran until 1967 before moving to Little Valley.
Much of the confusion surrounded the dates as 231 Court Street was still the address of the Jacobs house, one of the oldest homes on the street, which wouldn’t be razed until a few years later when Montgomery Ward built its store on the plot of land. In a 1929 Watertown Daily Times article regarding the razing of the Jacobs property, it was noted that “Recently, a lunch wagon has been located on the front of the property.” Still, the article failed to mention what became of it.
The information received from the diner enthusiast helped solve the question as to what happened to the car at the Jacobs home: it was moved to Ogdensburg instead of the open lot between it and the Liberty Theater sometime before the Jacobs home was razed in 1929 to make way for the new Montgomery Ward building, which opened in 1930.
The S & B Diner’s first mention found in print was in 1934, with its address of 233 Court Street. It was operating in a rail, or Pullman, car, for in 1937, it would be reported by the Watertown Daily Times that–
The operators of the S & B Diner, 233 Court Street, have been given permission by the city engineer to erect a portable restaurant building on their property. The building, erected, will be worth $5,000, according to the building permit.
The present S & B Diner will be removed to the railroad lot at the corner of Factory and Polk Streets, it is said.
This lot at the corner of Factory and Polk streets would become the second S & B Diner located within the city, operating at 100 Factory Street from 1937 until sometime before 1949 when it was known as the North Star Diner.
The S & B Diner on Court Street would ultimately see the writing on the wall as urban renewal brought new meaning to the saying, “there goes the neighborhood,” as block after block was torn down and their customer base went up in plumes of dust. With dwindling traffic, the S & B Diner would cite urban renewal as its reason for closing its doors for good in 1966.