The Lake Effect Diner, one of the last few dining car-style diners left in America, permanently closed its doors in Buffalo on Monday, August 16.

The diner first opened in Buffalo, New York back in 2002, almost 400 miles away from its home of 50 years (when it was originally known as “The Wayne Diner”). Tucker Curtin and his wife, Erin, had brought the Lake Effect Diner to life in Buffalo nearly 20 years ago.

Tucker said, “I wanted to bring authenticity to Buffalo, a piece of Americana. Something unique.”

The diner opened one year after 9/11, and at the time, the Lake Effect Diner was “the talk of the town,” Tucker said. They moved the 27 ton diner from outside Philadelphia to Buffalo in October, and then the Curtins placed the diner on a new foundation by July. It was officially opened on Halloween 2002.

“It was the hope of the future,” Tucker said.

You may think of fond memories of the restaurant that stood on Main Street in University Heights close to the city’s east side. One customer said about the diner, “It filled a niche that the city of Buffalo was missing when it first opened.”

The Lake Effect Diner has been very established over the years, offering breakfast and lunch options along with their delicious milkshakes. They served Coca-Cola products, and they even had a spiked root beer drink on the menu.

Kadie Daye

It was a classic, and the diner’s classic outer appearance maintained it as such. Before the pandemic, the diner operated with 24/7 service and was favored by college students in the area, as the University of Buffalo was only a walking distance away.

However, the restaurant was frequented by more than just college students. Food Network’s Guy Fieri even stopped in Buffalo to visit the Lake Effect Diner as part of his television program, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Drives”.

Lake Effect Diner

To remind customers of the present and future that Guy Fieri stopped in for a bite to eat, Fieri spray-painted his mark on a section of the diner’s stainless steel wall behind the front counter.

Lake Effect Diner

From the beginning of the Lake Effect Diner to its end, the Curtin family has been there the whole time to keep things running smoothly, and as you might have imagined, it’s heartbreaking for the Curtin family to announce the closing of their beloved diner’s doors.

“It was a tough last 18 months for the staff,” Tucker Curtin said.

Due to the shortage of employees and the last year and a half of struggles among other reasons, the Curtin family has decided to move forward with their lives, and while they will miss the times shared in the Lake Effect Diner, the time has come to embark on a new adventure together.

The Lake Effect Diner has been a popular destination for travelers and a community staple for Buffalonians. It will leave a fifties-like hole in our hearts that no diner in WNY may ever fill again.

Kadie Daye

“To all the staff, customers, friends and community,” Tucker said. “Your support has allowed the success few operators are able to achieve. [We] would never be able to do it without you. Cheers.”
What was your favorite part about the Lake Effect Diner? Share your pictures and memories with us at WYRK.

Kadie Daye

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