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May 10, 2014

Soda Jerks Diner has a 1950s flavor

Soda Jerks Diner at Action Lube, at 458 Chestnut St., near Winney Hill Road, is a family affair with a 1950s twist.

“We have a real soda fountain, we mix the syrup and the soda — hence the name ‘Soda Jerks,’” said Linda Burgher, who along with her family owns the garage with the 1950s diner.

The diner has black and white-tiled floors and retro stainless steel fixtures, as well as pill-box stools and booths. The 1950s-style juke box, pinball machine and posters of movie stars set a scene out of the television series, “Happy Days.”

“I grew up in a diner,” Burgher said. “On the other corner, there was the West End Diner — that was my family’s place. I went to Plains School, right there, where a shopping center is now. Seems like I just can’t get off of this (street).”

Not only did Burgher grow up there, but she raised her children and they have raised her grandchildren there.

“Soon it is going to be four generations living here,” said Heather Mann, Burgher’s daughter. “There are three apartments; Mom and Dad live upstairs in one and my brother Dustin lives in the other. I lived in the one out back until recently. My grandmother is getting frail, so we are making my old apartment handicapped-accessible for her.”

Mann went to culinary school and she is the impetus for starting the diner. Mann and her husband, Tim Mann, do the cooking and food preparation.

“Heather does a lot of really good things; she makes the best cakes – her MannMade cakes,” Burgher said. “She has also added a vegan and gluten-free menu, not because she is lactose intolerant, but because some of her cake customers are.”

Action Lube occupied the building for 12 years, which incidentally, according to Burgher, was built by Milton Rubenfeld, Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Rubens’ father.

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