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Roadside explores the back road and Main Streets of America. Our recipe for an American renaissance:
Eat in diners, ride trains, shop on Main Street, put a porch on your house, live in a walkable community.

Burlington's Taco Hell

oasisNow called El Cortijo, which I believe is Spanish for "I hate diners." (Photo by Michael Rosol)

When Stratton Lines purchased and installed his new Mountain View diner in downtown Burlington, Vermont in 1954, he called it the Oasis. Just the name makes one think of a warm and welcoming respite from the long Vermont winters. Inside, one might expect to find hot and hearty comfort foods served by people with no greater concern than their customer's satisfaction. After all, Stratty went the extra mile and purchased a real American diner, no small accomplishment in any period of our twentieth-century history.

Diners were expensive to buy for a good reason: Their builders crafted them meticulously and with great pride, mindful of all the abuse they'd endure, not just from the harsh weather, but from the thousands of grateful customers that walk through their doors. Built to last, expertly designed, and operated with pride, one might think that the American diner would endure. How could one not appreciate all that workmanship, passion, and love that went into their construction and operation?

oasisdiner-oldThis photo taken 50 years after the diner's construction shows a diner little different than when it emerged from the factory.

That is unless you received an education seriously devoid of appreciation for the hard work of those people or have the IQ of a moron. Obviously those individuals who have just dumped their steaming, wretched load of horrible taste all over the Oasis Diner this past month never bothered to find out why this distinctive structure lasted as long as it had at this location, or why its curious but charming appearance just happens to evoke travel by train, and why they will likely hear from dozens of people (or more) who will just look at them in bewilderment and shake their heads at the travesty of this godawful transformation.

What was once a beacon of comfort and an internationally known symbol of American ingenuity and greatness has become a stinking, ridiculous eyesore in the heart of one of New England's greatest destinations. They have taken a restaurant form that has for over a century transcended and outlived all manner of ill-conceived culinary trends and punched it right in the face. And now, I completely expect that the resulting bruises will probably never heal. 

The Lou-Rock Award