The Bluebird Diner opened in Pennsville, New Jersey earlier this year and I had a chance to visit recently. While the property has operated as a diner for longer than I’ve been alive, the new ownership spent significant capital and time in building what is essentially a brand new diner… but rooted in that classic New Jersey diner style
The Bluebird Diner is located on Broadway/Route 49 at the corner of Benson Ave in Pennsville. It is immediately next to the “Shops at Pennsville” Shopping Center, which features an Acme supermarket and a recently opened Harbor Freight.
The diner has already become a popular dining destination for the area and should continue to find plenty of loyal customers from the local community, as well as those coming in to shop at the adjacent shopping center.
For Pennsville, if you factor in the recent opening of the Engine House Bar/Restaurant (Golf Simulator), as well as the equally exciting The Shipyard… well the town is on a big win streak with a string of positive new business news!
And people love to eat and drink and new and interesting places!
Bluebird Diner – Pennsville
Bluebird Diner is owned by the same family which operates the Golden Pigeon Diner in Bridgeton (Facebook)
The plans for the new Bluebird Diner became known around 2019 or so, but like many other businesses starting up at that time, they were caught up in the construction challenges of the global pandemic. Prior to that the diner was empty and was up for sale.
Well, it was well worth the wait. The new ownership has done an amazing job bringing the diner back to life… in a down-to-earth community which really appreciates a good quality diner and meal.
The final Bluebird Diner rebuild is a beautiful diner with modern touches and design, but it still retains a lot of those older New Jersey diner charms from when built in the 60s.
The new ownership picked the right areas to improve the exterior look of the diner by building a new front corner entrance foyer, but leaving the distinctive 1960s era canted/angled window trim and associated side wall décor.
Significant stonework was added outside around the base of the diner and other areas. Plus all new signage was installed.
I know I’m repeating myself but I really appreciate how today’s South Jersey diner owners have been able to remodel (or rebuild) diners today, balancing that traditional experience while bringing in modern elements!
Inside the Bluebird diner, the overall layout of the space is probably the same since it was first built with that classic L-shaped design for the dining areas.
One wing of the dining area features the large diner counter area as well as window oriented booths. The other wing is set up as a dedicated dining table area.
The L-shaped aspect of the diner design is actually very functional because with the building being built square, the kitchen area takes up that space within the L… which offers quick access from the kitchen area to your table.
The large windows surrounding the space bring in a lot of light customer areas, adding to the bright and inviting feel of the space.
The interior color choices offer a variety of color choices which compliment the design choices, to make the space very comfortable to spend time enjoying a delicious meal.
The mint green ceiling accents and the earth tone walls around the windows create a soothing space, and the medium grey flooring and backwall coloring provide a subtle contrast which “just works”
The booths are all new construction too, with a reddish-brown tone and attractive cushioned backrests.
The left side wing feature area also features an 8-seat counter area, as well as a glass bakery display case. The dining area to the right carries the same design elements but without the counter. It also adds some interior stonework.
Most of the seating in the diner is booths, but some table seating can be found.
Carrying the true New Jersey diner theme to my visit, I went very classic with my lunch choosing an open-faced Reuben sandwich. It was was a recommendation of my waitress.. and it was an awesome recommendation!
My sandwich was delicious, the fries had just the right amount of crispiness…. And I wish I had ordered extra coleslaw!
The menu “specials” change for every lunch and dinner it seems, and management shares to their Facebook page. The choices are very creative and unique! Something for everyone.
Last night’s dinner specials included; Shepherd’s Pie, Crock Pot Chicken Stew, Hot Roast Pork Loin, Linguine Bolognese, Stuffed Peppers, Mardi Gras Catfish and more!
A Salem County Diner With A Legacy
From my research I can see that a diner was first opened on the site in 1957, and then a few short years later a fire struck the original diner. The diner structure you see today was developed on the site.
While I don’t have an exact chronological order of the incarnations of the diner I could see that in recent years it was known as the Broadway diner up until around 2015 or so. Prior to that it was known as the Goden Gate II diner.. and I see references to it being called the Pennsville Diner around 2011, and long before that: Pier 13!
While I didn’t get a chance to visit the diner during those years I can say that I don’t believe any of those variations met the amount of investment and upgrades that are available today with the Blackbird Diner!
But long timers in the area remember when the restaurant first opened as the G&L diner!
Back in 2011 the Society for Commercial Archaeology (which advocates for America’s Roadside Heritage) prepared a document on South Jersey Diners.
Their South Jersey Diner Tour publication (PDF) highlights the then named Pennsville Diner (2011), tracing back the building’s history to one of the original owners Gregory Petsas.
Gregory was one of the early South Jersey diner moguls, having ownership in both Glassboro’s P&B Diner and also the Woodstown Diner.
According to the South Jersey Diner tour, Gregory’s last name was the “P” in P&B Diner, and his first name was the “G: and the G&L diner!
The towering coffee cups and diner initials on the cups were exactly the same in both diners.. well except for the lettering!
While the Pennsville located diner opened prior to 1960, it is said that around 1960 a fryer vat mishap caught the diner on fire, igniting the roof.
It was then replaced by a corner entrance Kullman diner, which included the canted window struts between the individual panes… that are still on the building 60+ years later!
Something I would not have realized without the South Jersey diner publications is that originally the counter and diner area were reversed… with the counter being on the right side!
Fans of 42Freeway would enjoy reading the entire South Jersey Diner Tour document as it also highlights the Brooklawn Diner and the now closed (gone) Gateway Diner and Metro/Ponzio’s diners.
Paul from Glassboro’s Monarch Diner was part of the ownership team of the Metro diner, and his photo is featured in the publication, related to the Metro/Ponzio’s history.
So let’s celebrate the owners of today’s South Jersey diners, who have invested in keeping and upgrading what is truly part of the iconic South Jersey experience.. the Jersey Diner.
Including Pennsville’s new Bluebird Diner.
Links and Location
231 N Broadway
Pennsville, NJ 08070