Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
We want to record America’s diners in print. We hope you’ll be a part of it.
We want to record America’s diners in print. We hope you’ll be a part of it.
We want to record America’s diners in print. We hope you’ll be a part of it.
130 backers pledged $7,500 to help bring this project to life.

About

Diner Porn USA: The Book project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

Diner Porn USA: The Book

$7,500

130

Hi. We’re Alecia Eberhardt and Tom Smith, and we run Diner Porn, an internationally recognized blog that documents the American diner experience through photography and written vignettes. We think Diner Porn should be a book, and we need your help.

Why diners?

Tom started Diner Porn in February 2013 as an homage to the importance of diners in his own life. As a child, his parents took him to Park West Diner in Little Falls, New Jersey. He fell in love (with Alecia!) at 7th Avenue Diner & Donuts in Brooklyn. When he was kicked out of his New York apartment, he spent the night sitting at the counter of the Washington Square Diner on West 4th Street. In a way, diners are home to Tom, and he has tried to capture that through his photographs.

Diners hold a special place in American culture. They are both universal and unique—though diners, as classic American “icons,” have certain standards and commonalities, each individual place has its own vibe, a real reflection of the surrounding community. Diners are democratic, welcoming all walks of life, from the neighborhood regulars to the truck-stop transients, to stop in and share their stories. Like a train station or a bar, diners are a crossroads, a space of genuine human connection, fueled by coffee and all-day breakfast. We believe preserving and celebrating this culture is essential in a world run by corporate chains.

Over the past year and a half, the project has expanded and evolved, becoming more than just a food blog. Alecia has taken on an editorial role, writing and editing the narratives that accompany each photo essay. Our focus is on the stories of diners and the people that patronize them. We try to highlight the best parts of the diner experience—the vintage décor, the chrome buildings, and, most importantly, the people and the communities.

When we began sharing our work, we were pleasantly surprised to discover others shared our love for 24-hour greasy spoons. We have exactly 51,465 blog followers at the moment we write this paragraph, and that number grows daily. We’ve gotten some great press (keep reading for a few examples), and for that we’re eternally thankful. We’ve covered over 30 diners, some more than once, and our amazing followers have no shortage of suggestions—our to-do list is constantly growing. It turns out Tom is not alone. Diners are “home” for thousands of others across America, and that's perhaps why this project has struck a chord with so many people—in every cup of coffee, stack of pancakes, or ice cream sundae, readers can find a bit of themselves.

Here are a few of our favorite features from the past two years:
Olympic Diner in Kingston, New York
Phoenicia Diner in Phoenicia, New York

Village Diner in Saugerties, New York

Gateway Diner in Highland, New York

The Cook Room in Middle Island, New York
Park West Diner in Little Falls, New Jersey
Bendix Diner in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey
7th Avenue Diner and Donuts in Brooklyn, New York

What will the project look like?

We don’t make any profit from Diner Porn, and thus far, it’s been funded completely out of our own pockets, for one reason—we love doing it. It’s fun, we’ve met so many new people, and we’ve been able to try so many delicious dishes. But when one follower asked us a few months ago why we only feature New York and New Jersey diners, we had to be honest—our limited (read: non-existent) budget means we’ve been restricted to diners in close proximity to our headquarters in upstate New York. We know there are so many more gems out there—and now we’ve made it our mission to find and record them.

Our plan is to do a national road trip, visiting diners across the eastern half of the United States. The diners, in the list below, are not necessarily the most “famous” places in each city, but the ones that are most valuable to the community. We plan to capture what makes each diner unique and important, whether that be a signature dish, a friendly waitress, or a witty group of regulars. What we discover will be featured on our blog through photo essays and written vignettes, with, as always, a focus on the stories.

Then—the pièce de résistance—we’ll take everything and turn it into a high quality, full-color book, with beautiful photos and exclusive content. The books will both record these diners for posterity and celebrate them as the artistic and cultural icons that they truly are.

How did you choose the diners?

Great question! We considered a few different factors when we created our itinerary. First of all, we limited ourselves to the eastern portion of the United States only, because we want to be able to complete the road trip in one month and within a reasonable budget. Sorry, Southwest and West Coast—we promise to get you guys next time! We created a road trip route that “looped” us from New York down to Georgia along the coast, across to New Orleans, back up through the Midwest, and across the Upper Midwest back home.

Then, we put the question to our followers. We asked: “What is your favorite diner in or around these cities? Why?” The response we got was nearly overwhelming. Dozens of suggestions poured in through our blog and social media channels. Our next task was to filter those suggestions and fill in any blanks using the magic of Internet research.

We created a “rubric” to grade the diners—yes, we got really scientific—in each city, based on what we consider aspects of an authentic diner. The diners we selected didn’t have to fulfill all the requirements, but it gave us a good place to start.

✓ Open 24 hours

✓ Serves Breakfast All Day

✓ Retro Decor

✓ Good Food

✓ Good Rating

All that decision-making leads us here. Let us present: a tentative list of our 20 featured diners. This a diverse and exciting group of contenders, with some famous and some unknown, some old and some new, some in cities and some in the middle of nowhere, some strict classics and some with a fair amount of local flavor.

  • Melrose Diner, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tastee Diner, Silver Spring, Maryland
  • Dot’s Back Inn, Richmond, Virginia
  • Finch’s Restaurant, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • The Early Bird Diner, Charleston, South Carolina
  • Diner on Abercorn, Savannah, Georgia
  • Marietta Diner, Marietta, Georgia
  • Stray Dog’s Hash House, Mobile, Alabama
  • Clover Grill, New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Peaches Restaurant, Jackson, Mississippi
  • Bon-Ton Cafe, Memphis, Tennessee
  • Courtesy Diner, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Daley’s Restaurant, Chicago, Illinois
  • Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, Michigan
  • Tommy’s Diner, Columbus, Ohio
  • George’s Kitchen, Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tom’s Diner, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • DeLuca’s, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • State Diner, Ithaca, New York
  • Skylark Diner, Vestal, New York

Please note—this list is very tentative and subject to change. Though we’re planning carefully, we can’t guarantee that these will be the final 20 diners featured in the book. We can, however, guarantee that the book will feature all new content and amazing, diverse diners.

What are other people saying about the project?

Oh, people have a lot to say about Diner Porn. This is the section where we get to brag a bit—bear with us, okay? Let’s start with press.

  • In July 2013, First We Feast lauded Diner Porn’s “gorgeous, tasteful shots” of “club sandwiches, Formica, apple pie, and all things old school Americana." See it here.

  • On July 24, 2013, Eater.com named us their “Website of the Day.” See it here.

  • Also in July 2013, Thrillist spoke with Tom for a feature that begins: “The cheap, strong coffee. The slightly busted booths...Basically everything about them makes diners great, and one Tumblr is attempting to capture it all with a series of incredible diner porn pictures.” See it here.

  • In July 2013, Diner Porn was also featured on Foodista! They described the project like so: “If this website doesn't get your stomach growling, I don't know what will.” See it here.

  • In September 2013, Huffington Post called Diner Porn their “new Tumblr obsession." See it here.

  • In December 2013, Tumblr named us one of their “Top Blogs of 2013.” See it here.

  • In March 2014, Chronogram, a Hudson Valley arts and culture magazine, put our faces on their cover and profiled Diner Porn in the magazine, online, and through a brief artist documentary video. See it here.

  • Diner Porn was featured with a full-page piece in the arts and leisure section of the July 10–16, 2014 (print) issue of the River Reporter, a Catskills region newspaper.

Yes, all this press attention is flattering, but we care much more about what the people think. Here’s a sampling of the public’s reaction to our project.

  • “[Diner Porn] captures the diner experience better than words ever could." (Link)

  • “It’s just what it sounds like... And it’s beautiful.” (Link)

  • “I’m straight obsessing over these Diner Porn photos. American, casual, classic, those are just some of the words that describe diner culture shown through the eyes of the Diner Porn photographer. The biggest takeaway I get, though, is a feeling of long-standing, appealing comfort.” (Link)

  • "I grew up near New York, always surrounded by great diners. Now I’ve moved to a different part of the country and [Diner Porn] reminds me of home." (Link)

  • "We ended up at the Phoenicia Diner twice because of [Diner Porn], and over our delicious breakfasts and lunches there, we were inspired to think outside of the box, to consider a life outside of the one we’ve always known." (Link)

  • "The Diner Porn project is important because it gives small businesses a chance to get recognized." (via Instagram)

  • "The team behind Diner Porn inspired me to develop my own storytelling project." (via Instagram)

  • “[Diner Porn] reminds me of all the warm fuzzy feelings behind food, the community, simplicity, and ritual. Love it.” (Link)

  • “[Diner Porn] proves that for a REALLY good food blog, you need your photos to tell a story.” (Link)


So how will the money be used?

Our whole budget is broken down below. Please feel free to contact us with any questions whatsoever about the way we’ll use this money.

Gas: $700
This gives us 200 gallons at $3.50 per gallon.

Meals: $1,050
This gives us each 3 meals per day at $7 per meal, on average—some meals may be more than $7, but some will likely be comped by diners!

Campgrounds and hotels: $1,300
This gives us an average of $52 per night for accommodations. We’ll be staying with friends and in campgrounds as often as we can. Hotels will be used in the case of very inclement weather.

Car maintenance: $680
We want to ensure our trusty Subaru is ready for this trip. This covers a tune-up, an oil change, and a Triple-A subscription.

Printing: $725
This is based on a quote we received for 50 books at about $13 per book, plus shipping. If we end up printing a higher quantity, the cost per book will go down, but the shipping cost will increase.

Kickstarter fees: $650
This cover the 5% that Kickstarter deducts and the 5% that Amazon deducts from each project.

Other rewards: $895
This covers rewards other than the book, like postcards, prints, and everything else you see in the “rewards” section to the right. This 14% of our budget will go directly back to our supporters!

Emergency fund: $500
We’re traveling and dealing with quite a lot of expensive equipment. This fund covers us if we get a flat tire, if we need a basic camera repair, if one of us gets sick, or any other unexpected event that might occur.

As you can tell from our budget, we’ve been very minimal with our travel demands to keep the it reasonable. We don’t care about sleeping at the Four Seasons—we just want to see this project through.

Who are you people anyway?

Glad you asked! We’re a creative and caffeinated freelance couple living and working in Saugerties, New York, directly between the Catskills and the Hudson River. Tom is a designer and photographer with work in Chronogram, Upstate House, Green Door Magazine, and Saratoga Living, among others. Alecia is a writer and editor who regularly works for Paperkite Creative and the New York City Food Truck Association and has been published in Huffington Post, Green Door Magazine, Watershed Post, xoJane, and Luna Luna Magazine. Together, we run Eberhardt Smith, a multidisciplinary creative studio. Along with Diner Porn, we’ve also created Catskill Made, a journal of artists and makers in the Catskills. We love coffee, living in the mountains, and our dachshund, Quincy, who will most certainly be accompanying us on this road trip—if we’re funded, that is!

Where are the free photos you promised?

Right here! We hope you do something fun with them.

Risks and challenges

Our mission is to publish a book that people will want to read over and over again, and the greatest challenge we face is doing so in a very short amount of time. We will be traveling to an average of 1 diner per day, so we will need to be fast and precise.

Overcoming this challenge will require extensive preparation. We'll dig up as much information based on reviews from sites like Yelp and Google, and compile the information into a diner "cheat sheet" to reference as we enter the diner.

Then we'll verify with the staff and customers that the information we have is accurate before we choose what to write about and photograph.

Tom has been working as a freelance photojournalist, popping in to local businesses (just like diners) and getting publishing-quality work in just a few hours (not to mention covering over 30 diners in the same way since the project began).

Alecia is a writer specializing in short essays, creative writing, health journalism—and she's an expert at talking to people. Her experience as a writer and editor has prepared her to take on this project with aplomb.

Creatively, the project stands at a crossroads between its current medium, a photo blog, and the end result, a published book. Thanks to our experience in print design and publishing, we believe the transition from web to print will be seamless. We'll also maintain the project's original authenticity as we move from one medium to another. You'll see the same typeface, the same minimal layout, and a lot of big beautiful photos throughout the book.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    JUST COFFEE //
    Acknowledgement in the book and our eternal gratitude!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    THE SOUP OF THE DAY //
    Acknowledgement in the book plus a postcard from the road trip!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    12 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    THE SUNNY SIDE UP //
    All previous rewards, plus a high-quality 5x7 print of one of the photos from the book, ready to frame!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    7 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    THE CHEESEBURGER ROYALE //
    All previous rewards, plus a behind-the-scenes Polaroid from the one of the diners we visit!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    6 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    THE BLUE PLATE SPECIAL //
    All previous rewards, plus a signed copy of the official Diner Porn USA book!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    82 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    THE CHICKEN A LA KING //
    All previous rewards, plus an 36 x 48 retro-style engineering print poster that’s perfect for wall art.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only certain countries
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    CLAMS CASINO //
    All previous rewards, plus a tote bag with original Diner Porn USA art!

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    SURF 'N' TURF //
    All previous rewards, plus a photo of you at one of the diners on our list in the official Diner Porn USA book! That's right, you'll get to be in the book. Must be willing/able to travel to one of the diners on our itinerary.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 4 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    PIE A LA MODE //
    All previous rewards, plus meet up with the Diner Porn creators—us!—at a diner for lunch or dinner! Must be willing/able to travel to one of the diners on our itinerary.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 4 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)