Old Chester, PA: Rainbow Diner

4th & Morton Ave.

Rainbow Diner, 4th & Morton

Rainbow Diner, 4th & Morton

(Sign printed across the second story of the light colored building next door reads, "Bankers Check Service - Cashing Payroll Checks Here"

Background | Police Report | December 2001 Report

Your Responses | More Rainbow Diner Images | Recollections

new2.gif (111 bytes) The Full "Rainbow Diner" Details - Carly Subashi


Background: Greta Pieri Galuszka, Program Coordinator at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia is looking for any information about the Rainbow Diner at 4th & Morton Avenue in Chester.  (See police report below).

Many of us remember the Rainbow Diner on 9th Street at Sproul but there are conflicting recollections about such a diner at 4th & Morton Ave.  Some say it never existed, others say they seem to remember a burned out shell of what might have been a diner at that location.

Can you help?  Did the same owners have had this diner at 4th & Morton in earlier years?

Just let me know any information you might be able to contribute and I'll pass the results along to Greta.

john@oldchesterpa.com


1943 Police Report: Following is the police report as filed.  The inmate's name was blacked out on my copy so I'll replace it with "X".

November 8, 1943

SUBJECT: X

TO: Warden Herbert Smith

FROM: Walter Tees

On 11-6-43 at 7:55 A.M. the above inmate was captured by State-Policemen Rocco Urella and Peter Waselefsky, in the Rainbow Diner at Fourth and Morton Streets, Chester, Pennsylvania.

State-Policemen Urella and Waselefsky went into the diner and asked X for his identification.  X drew a 45 caliber automatic pistol and started shooting at the State-Policemen.  X fired three shots; one shot grazed Urella's right wrist, left sleeve and one shot passed by his (Urella's) head.

Urella drew his revolver and shot and killed X.  One bullet hit X near the left collar-bone, one hit above the heart and one hit in the left side above the breast.  The automatic that X had, jammed.

X had in his possession at the time, twenty-six 45 caliber cartridges, one key and nineteen dollars in cash.  The number of the automatic pistol was C-15591.

At the time of his capture, he was clothed in the following clothes: Blue denim jacket and trousers, white sweat shirt, black socks, brown shoes, blue zipper jacket and a dirty tweed cap.

WT:m

Update 8/9/2003:

"My uncle was Victor Andreoli, the man shot and killed by Officer Urella. This was, understandably, a painful incident for my family. My sisters and I are trying to gather information about our uncle's life and this particular incident. If anyone has any additional information about Victor Andreoli (even if it's very small) I would appreciate hearing from you very much."

Sincerely,

Gina Andreoli 


new2.gif (111 bytes) January 2002
Details from
Carly Subashi
"Just to set the record straight, the original diner, was built in N.J and set in place at 4th and Morton Ave in 1941 by Nick Subashi, the former owner of the Bridge Cafe, at 9th and Chester Creek. Nick had a partner, Lou Danga, who later was called into the U.S Army.

"The diner operated until the end of W.W. II, feeding literally thousands of people who worked, the 3 shifts, at Sun Ship yard.

"In the Spring of 1946 the diner was closed while preparations were being made to relocate it to10th and Green St. Marcus Hook, Nick was killed in an auto accident in Glouster, N.J.

"The existing Diner at 9th and Sproul Sts. was purcharsed in 1952 by Steve Stephano from Charlie Platton and renamed it The Rainbow Diner.

"In 1956, that Diner was removed and placed by a then modern stainless steel clad unit. While the facade has been changed, the building is still standing today.

"In 1964, The Rainbow Diner at 9th and Sproul Sts. was sold to Andy Subashi who operated it until it was closed in 1976. Andy was also the last owner of the The Yellow Bowl Restaurant and partner with his brother Lou and friend George Bergdoll at the Midtown Inn (Old Imperial Hotel at 7th and Welsh Sts.)"

-Carly Subashi, csubashi@temple.edu


December 2001
Report:
While I was in Chester in November, Helen M. (Webber) Imburgia, HMWEBBER@aol.com, informed me that the current Rainbow Diner car in Marcus Hook is indeed the same Rainbow Diner that used to be at 4th & Morton Ave. in Chester. Helen reports that the bullet holes from the November 1943 shootout are still visible there.

Rainbow Diner, Marcus Hook, PA - December 17, 2001
Rainbow Diner in Marcus Hook, December 17, 2001 John A. Bullock III.

February 2003: The Marcus Hook Diner has reopened as the Sungate Diner
Thanks to Bill Locke for this update.

On December 7, 2001, Helen reports the following:

"...I was going to suggest to Bruce DORBIAN (Marcus Hook Boro. Manager & President of the Marcus Hook Community Development Corp.), if they buy the property to considering making the diner an Historical Museum with pictures about it's history & Marcus Hook in general -- (a Marcus Hook Historical Society).

Upon receiving a phone call from Bruce today, I brought this to his attention & mentioned about the great amount of historic interest people have in this diner & referred him to your website [oldChesterPa.com].

Bruce did tell me, they have a bid in for the property but would tear down the diner or sell it -- I'm hoping I can get though to him/them & change their minds.

Hence, if you are anyone you know would like to take pictures of this diner NOW is the time!

If you would like to contact Bruce DORBIAN or send pictures, information about the diner, etc.  The address & phone # is:


Bruce Dorbian
Municipal Building
10th & Green Sts.
Marcus Hook, PA 19061
(610) 485-1341

Please pass this on to others who may have an interest in the "Rainbow Diner."  "Diners" are becoming an extinct breed!  :)

- Happy Holiday's, Helen (DCGS)


Your Responses: Jim Beard
9/21/2001:

"I remember my father (42 year Sun Ship employee) telling me of Rocco Urella (former State Police Commander, under Milton Shapp) of the incident at Rainbow Diner. That diner is in Marcus Hook today. I don't know if bullet is still in the wood trim or not. It was a stray bullet from Urellas, gun. He later was in charge of Delco CID. Esso built new gas station there in late 50;s with Sam Shakespere as dealer owner."


Maurice "Bud" Haynes, KV7G@prodigy.net
9/10/2001:

"I was born in Chester in 1927, I lived in the "Court" on Hancock St. until 1952 when I married Maxine Nichols from McDowell Ave (still married to her). I worked at Sun Ship for a short while around 1945, I do not remember ever seeing a Diner there, I DO remember a check cashing place. As you came out of the main gate and crossed 4th it was on the left corner... We live in Yuma, AZ now."


Marge, Egram37@cs.com,
8/30/2001:

"My uncle lived at 3rd and Morton Ave.  He said that there was a diner at 4th & Morton.   It was the early 40's.  It is the same diner that is now in Marcus Hook."


Earl Goodman:
4/21/2001

"My wife grew up around that area, and her Father worked at Sun Ship, and she recollects that indeed there was a Diner in that area of 4th and Morton.  She says there used to be a fabric store close by, and that she remembers the ladies from there going to the diner for lunch.  She was very young then, and still is :) but her memory is better than mine (At Times).

"... if she says she remembers a diner there, OK so be it. (lol).  I sure don't, and I have a couple of years on her.  We live in Virginia now, and it has been awhile since we have visited the area."


Henrietta Landis:

"...the Rainbow diner was at 4th and Morton. My older sibblings
remember it. Here is what they recall. It was moved to ninth street and later to Marcus Hook. it still is in business..."


Gene Zacniewski "Zac":

"LIKE I WROTE NO DINER AT 4THAND MORTONTHAT WOULD BE AT MAIN GATE TO SUN SHIP ONLY DINER ON MORTON AVE WAS LOCATED BETWEEN 7THAND 8TH STREETTHAT COULD HAVE BEEN IT."

also from Zac:

"LIKE I SAID JOHN THE ONLY DINER ON MORTON WAS BETWEEN 6THAND 7TH STREET4TH A MORTON WAS SUN SHIP PARKING LOT.WAS BACK THERE 99 LOOKED AROUND THAT AREA EMPTY LOT THERE NO REMAINS OF ANY DINER.  ZAC"


"Joker" Jack Chambers:

"I have sat and look at the pix I printed from your site of the Rainbow diner at 4th and Morton on and off for over a day.. I can not come up with any recollections of a diner at the location. It was a little before my time (1950-----present) It obviously existed as the picture is worth a thousand words. Plus the memo states "Rainbow diner at Fourth and Morton, Chester"

My sister-in-law is 76 years old, so I asked her, but she had no recollections either.(I even asked about a burnt out shell.) I can definitely say it is not the same one as 9th & Sproul. I spent a lot of time and ate a lot of food at the 9th St. diner."

later also from "Joker" Jack...

"According to the Chester Times Yearbook for 1944 (Yes, I even have one of those!)it is reported under "Delaware County in Review-1943" on page 128 the following:

Nov.6-Victor Andreoli, escaped life-term convict, shot and killed by State patrolmen Rocco Urelli and Peter Wasilewski in Chester's Rainbow diner, during early morning gun-fight that climaxed week-long search for the gunman."

Just thought I would do my homework and  make sure you have accurate info when possible. I'm old, but I just can't remember anything about the diner being there. s/Jack"


from Joseph P. Grovola, via Zac:

"Rainbow Diner ---- 9th and Welsh Across the street from where the Ford dealer used to be (Stull Ford). Just past where Pep Boys store used to be.  There was a walk-over bridge next to the diner that you could use to get to Ayre Park.  Ayre Park was the development that was next to Chester High School - many of the guys and gals we used to go to school with lived there.  It's all been bulldozed (they had a tremendous flood there many years ago and it wiped it out completely).  I saw that picture you had about a "Rainbow" diner on Morton Ave. near the shipyard -- way before our time -- don't know if there was any connection or not.  That area during our days in Chester was all "bars" and "Taprooms" for Sun Ship guys. Friday nights the places were loaded -- nothing like a couple of cold ones on the way home from work............"


Alice Ritter:

"Yes, John, the Rainbow Diner that most of us remember at 9th and Sproul Sts was the same diner in the pix.  I can't recall the name of the owner when it was at 9th & Sproul but I will do some research."


Jim Woods:

"I believe in later years i.e. the 50's the diner was owned by Andrew Subashi. His father may have owned it before him. In addition, a Mr. Dmhitri was related to the Subashi's and may have been a partner with Mr. Subashi in the 40's.

Both families lived in Eddystone during that time. Andy was a contemporary of mine. He later owned a diner (The Rainbow (?)) in Marcus Hook."


Joe & Lorraine Delozier:

"We both remember Rocco Urella, he was a big cheese in the state police, we're not sure what his title was.  I can just about remember the diner, that was close to the  main entrance to Sun Ship. I believe   it was on the South-west corner of the intersection. On the picture, the trolley tracks on 4th street to the right, you would be going toward Madison St.  You can throw a rock from the new jail they built and hit the diner if it was still there.   We can't remember when the Rainbow Diner went up on North side of 9th st, at Sproul . It seems to me it was new after the war."


More Rainbow Diner
Images

rainbow_diner_ashtray.JPG (37388 bytes)

Well, folks, this answers any question we might have had about the ownership of the Chester and Marcus Hook Rainbow Diners!
Recollections "The Rainbow Diner in Marcus Hook remains very vivid in my memory. It opened just about the time I went to work for the old Economy Drug Store on Market Street, around 1947. It sat right at the edge of the Sun Oil refinery and about this time there was a disastrous fire at the refinery. Eleven men were killed, including Nick Barnette, the Marcus Hook Fire Chief. The diner was a gathering place for young people even though it was the last building at the edge of the business district. It was busy 24 hours a day because of the refinery workers who were taken around town to restaurants (and some to bars) for lunch/dinner breaks in "jitnies." I recall that the house special was "hamburger steak" with french fries and one vegetable. It was great seeing that photo and having my memory jogged."

- Don Collins, Tucson AZ

 

 

 

If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about the Rainbow Diner or this incident, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com


2000, 2001, 2003 John A. Bullock III.

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This page last updated 10/18/05