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Smithsonian Decides To Preserve New Jersey Diner

June 17, 1987

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ A shiny, streamlined diner where workers rubbed elbows with Philadelphia debutantes over blue-plate specials, has found itself a new home: the Smithsonian Institution, officials said Tuesday.

The national museum in Washington, D.C., plans to refurbish the classic diner and incorporate it into a display scheduled to run for 10 years, Curator Robert Post said in Washington.

The eatery, which shows early uses of formica, vinyl and stainless steel, will be used in an exhibit entitled ″A Material World,″ scheduled to open in April, Post said.

Richard Kubach, a German immigrant who settled in Philadelphia, opened the chrome, 54-seat diner in 1940, said his son, Richard Kubach Jr.

But in 1956 he bought a 106-seat diner that is still in business in south Philadelphia. The elder Kubach is now 79 and semi-retired, and his son runs the business.

Kubach sold the Melrose, and the new owner carted it to New Jersey, where it fell upon hard times and closed about 10 years ago, said Ralph Lubeosco, who bought the property on which the diner sits.

When museum curators were scouting the Northeast for just such a diner, they came upon the roadside relic in this rural township outside Trenton.

Post said an inspection proved the diner could be transported, and Lubeosco said the Smithsonian could have it free of charge if they would cart it away.

A sizeable piece of the diner will sit side-by-side with an antique car made largely of wood, a lightweight dragster, a piece of cable orginally slated for the George Washington Bridge and cast-iron production machinery.

The Smithsonian will move the diner in July to its conservation center in Silver Hill, Md., where the restoration work will be done. The museum will try to keep it intact, with an eye toward possibly using it later as a food stand near the museum, Post said.

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