Oasis Diner History

The Oasis Diner, manufactured by Mountain View Diners in Signac, NJ, was shipped via railroad to the east side of Plainfield, Indiana in 1954. The original owners were James Canavan and Frank Thurber. Frank sold out and moved away but James owned and operated the Oasis until he sold it to George and Mona Thompson in the early 1970’s. The Thompson’s ran the Diner until 1982 when it was purchased by Walter and Evelyn Dininger. Walter then leased the Diner to Raymond Piercy in 1985 and he eventually bought it in 1987 and owned and operated it until 2008. Raymond’s health forced him to close down the Diner in 2008.

In 2010, Indiana Landmarks listed the Diner on their 10 Most Endangered Indiana Buildings list. This listing prompted the Town of Plainfield to conduct a feasibility study on the possible relocation of the Diner just 4 miles west to their recently revitalized Town Center.

Local residents, Doug Huff and Don Rector, answered the Town’s request to relocate, restore and reopen this historical landmark and after more than 3 years of research, planning and construction, the Oasis Diner reopened in it’s current location in November of 2014.

Both the exterior and interior of the Oasis Diner have been restored back to their original appearance. The Diner also remains located on the Historic National Road and is the only diner on the National Road in Indiana and is only 1 of less than 5 historical diners to remain on US 40 from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois.

Revisiting Oasis Diner

New owners Doug Huff and Don Rector have restored the beloved Plainfield eatery to its glory days.

Just five years ago, the Oasis Diner made Indiana Landmarks’s list of the “10 Most Endangered” historical sites. Now it’s one of the hottest places on the west side to get a plate of Disco fries and a chocolate malt. But it took a kindhearted gift by a former owner—and the flatbed of a semi—to get the Oasis where it is today: four miles west of its longtime location on U.S. 40, with an expansion and a renovation that have restored the 1954 Mountain View Diner to its original luster. Stop here on a Saturday for lunch, and you’ll see by the throngs of smiling customers that new owners Doug Huff and Don Rector, who received the title to the diner after onetime owner Wally Beg donated it to Indiana Landmarks in 2013, have a hit on their hands. Slide onto a stool in the pink-and-green–tiled interior of the old dining room, and you’ll be transported to a simpler time when such diners lined the nation’s highways.

Rector and Huff nearly doubled the seating when they added a second dining room to the roadside restaurant, which reopened last November. A spacious basement bakery allows for plenty of freshly made desserts, like cinnamon rolls and caramel crunch cake, which fill domed pedestals on the counter. New dishes include a San Francisco Benedict with roasted tomatoes as well as the Oasis Burger, a messy number topped with pulled pork, bacon, and coleslaw. Unfortunately, one blue-plate favorite, beef Manhattan, disappoints with somewhat leaden potatoes and shredded beef rather than the classic slices. Trendy bacon mac ’n’ cheese is also a bit bland and greasy, with little richness from the cheese or the bacon. A safer bet is the generous club sandwich, with plenty of meat and cheese accompanied by garlic mayo. And the thick-cut breaded tenderloin is still one of the area’s best, whether stretching beyond its modest bun or smothered in sausage gravy and served with eggs in the rib-sticking “Indianapolis” breakfast special—a Hoosier diner standard that more than lives up to this landmark’s six-decade reputation.

Oasis Diner Brings Nostalgia and Delicious Food

When I was a child, I always looked forward to Saturday mornings because they meant cartoons and then a trip out to brunch with my dad. More often than not, our destination was the Oasis Diner.

I have fond memories of sitting on round stools at the counter, enjoying eggs and bacon or a delicious Indiana tenderloin.

My memories of the Oasis Diner go back to it’s time on West Washington Street. In 2009, the restaurant was in danger of being closed down due to structural defects.

But earlier this year, thanks to the help of Indiana Landmarks and local developers, the Oasis Diner has new owners and a new home, four miles west of its previous location still on U.S. 40 at 405 W. Main St. in Downtown Plainfield.

Since I had such wonderful memories of dining there with my father almost 30 years ago, I was really excited to take my son along for his first Oasis experience. Walking into the restaurant was a huge rush of nostalgia; the furnishings have been updated, but the restaurant still has the same look and feel I remember from my childhood. The feel of the 1950s is definitely present.

The menu also did not disappoint.
You can still get a delicious tenderloin, made with the same recipe the diner has been using for years. Oasis has a bakery on-site, and all of their bread products are baked fresh. There’s also yummy hand-crafted sodas that are made locally, without any high fructose corn syrup. I highly recommend the butterscotch root beer!

The restaurant was pretty busy, especially for a Sunday evening, but we didn’t wait long for a seat and had great service. Breakfast is served anytime, and the options are plentiful! I had a delicious fried egg sandwich on an english muffin, and my son devoured his hot dog kid’s meal. We had a great time enjoying the atmosphere and each other’s company.

One important note: the diner has been happily overwhelmed by all of the support they’ve received from the local community. But because of the great response from the community, it’s been necessary for the restaurant to close between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to restock for the evening dinner rush. Keep this in mind when planning your visit!

When you visit the Oasis Diner, you don’t just get a healthy dose of nostalgia; you get a tasty meal and service with a smile. I am so happy that this fond childhood memory of mine was preserved, and I am excited that I’ll be able to share the diner experience with my family for years to come.

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