The Only Place You Can Still Find A Woolworth's Diner

The old American five-and-dime store, to make a long discussion on economics and changing times short, has gone the way of the horse and buggy, Model T's, and gramophone record players. For those who may be too young to know what such a store is, UnitedStatesNow explains they were stores where you could purchase your household goods and assorted merchandise on the cheap, for prices between a nickel and a dime — hence the name, five-and-dime. In a way, these stores were the predecessor to other discount stores such as Dollar Tree, which serves a similar purpose in the community.

One of the giants of the five-and-dime market was Woolworth's. The brainchild of entrepreneur Frank Woolworth, the first successful Woolworth's Five Cent Store opened in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1879. So popular was the concept of the "five-and-dime" that, according to the Library of Congress, Woolworth's not only had 596 stores in the United States in 1912 but had also expanded into international markets, too. Another remarkable characteristic of Woolworth's stores was its lunch counters. Much like the modern-day food court, these cafeterias served customers sandwiches, fries, milkshakes, and other inexpensive and easy-to-make foods. These lunch counters not only helped to bring in more profit but also encouraged customers to stay around and shop in between lunch breaks.

Of course, nowadays, Woolworth's lunch counters have been replaced by drive-thru lanes and delivery services. But, should you feel nostalgic, there's still one place that has an operating Woolworth's lunch counter.

There's a Woolworth's Diner in California

Nestled in sunny Bakersfield, California, among many modern-day restaurants both local and national, you'll find the last remaining Woolworth's Diner. Described by Eater LA as being located in an assuming antique mall, Woolworth's Diner definitely looks like a place stuck in time. There's a long, wooden wrap-around counter separating customers and fry cooks, a black-and-white checkerboard floor, and workers in white shirts take orders for hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes. In fact, Eater LA reports that nothing on the menu goes above $10, making it a very affordable place to dine at.

As of recently, however, the old lunch counter has closed — at least, temporarily while renovations are being done. As KGET explains, the mall the Woolworth's Diner is located in was purchased from the original owners by the investment firm Moneywise Guys, who are currently seeking an operator to staff the lunch counter. SFGate reports that, rather than closing, the diner will undergo an enormous overhaul, as will the building it's located in. This will be done to "reverse" the downward trend that the area of Bakersfield is in, which many investors hope will bring business back into the area.

While it may be some time until Woolworth's Diner reopens for good, it seems many fast food restaurants are returning to their "retro-roots," meaning that, for the time being, one can scratch that nostalgic itch simply by visiting their local McDonald's or Burger King.