08 February 2011

Lost City: Providence Edition: Haven Bros. Rolling Diner


One of the strangest, and best, culinary traditions in Providence, Rhode Island, is the Haven Bros. diner, which, every night at 5 PM, rolls to the corner of Dorrance and Fulton, right outside City Hall, and parks there until 5 AM. A door opens on the metal truck, a set of stairs come out, and the public is invited to climb in and chow down on chili dogs, french fries, coffee milk and "Murder Burgers." The kitchen fills up half the interior, the other side taken up by a few stools and a counter. They even have an ATM in there. Prices are cheap, the food is acceptable and you leave full. (I wonder who eats here at 4 AM? Besides drunken Brown U. students, I mean.)

It's a weird thing, this truck. They call themselves one of the oldest rolling diners in the U.S., having been founded as a horse-drawn cart in 1888 by the widow Anne Philomena Haven. The Havens went through two more generations before selling in 1953 to the Mollicone family. Currently, the Giusti family owns the truck.


Some years ago, a Providence mayor tries to kick the diner to the curb, saying it didn't fit in with the rest of "modern Providence." The population protested, and the Haven Bros. diner was allowed to stay. That mayor is gone now.

During my sole visit, I had a chili dog and a coffee milk. The grizzled old fry cook implored that I could "handle" two dogs. I declined. He seemed quite disgusted with my timidity. Which made me like the place even more.


8 comments:

upstate Johnny G said...

wazza coffemilk?

Brooks of Sheffield said...

It's a mixture of coffee syrup and ice cold milk. The state drink of Rhode Island. Strange, huh? they've been drinking it up there for a century.

anniep said...

The only things I miss about Providence are my best friend, and coffee milk.

Japan said...

This must be among the last of the 'night lunch' wagons that once graced the midnight streets of most American cities. One of the origin points of the modern-day diner.

mingusal said...

This must be among the very last of the 'night lunch' wagons that once graced the midnight streets of most large American cities. They were one of the origin points of the modern-day diner.

Ken Mac said...

fantastic

Some Assembly Required said...

Having grown up just south of Providence, I spent my share of late nights/early mornings eating Haven Bros. food as a sort of nightcap. Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

It was also the first