Lot 907

The Dingman Collection

Silk City Diner by Paterson Vehicle Company

Offered from the Dingman Collection


$336,000 USD | Sold

United States | Hampton, New Hampshire



  • An authentic 1940s American diner, restored to its original glory
  • Operated from 1952 until 1989 in Pittsgrove, New Jersey
  • Equipped with a fully functional adjoining kitchen and appliances
  • Accompanied by a comprehensive written history
  • All costs and logistics for rigging and transportation prepared and available to interested parties

Please note that this diner is not located at the RM auction venue but rather a short drive away on private property. Please speak with an RM representative to schedule a viewing of this stunningly restored diner.

Betsy & Mike’s diner was produced by the Paterson Vehicle Company of Paterson, New Jersey, in the 1940s. The notes of its restorer, Steve Harwin, mention that it may have first operated in Smyrna, Delaware. It was eventually traded in by its operator to Mountain View Diners, which reconditioned it and sold it to “Smoky” Wentzell of Pittsgrove, New Jersey. Wentzell installed the diner at a prime location on U.S. 40, the busy Pittsgrove Circle interchange, and dubbed it the Pittsgrove Circle Diner, though to virtually everyone it was known as the Pole Tavern Diner.

Hollywood could not have created a better scene: Smoky himself, cigarette between his lips and apron around his waist, holding court at the counter, while a cook named Sparky worked the flattop. The Pole Tavern Diner was most famous for its pies, and small wonder – Smoky’s recipe for pie crust, which has been preserved for posterity, begins with a pound of lard.

By 1959 increasing competition led Wentzell to want out of the diner business, and he sold the Pole Tavern Diner and its land on the Circle to Harry G. Smith of Alloway, New Jersey. Smith would buy and default on the dinner twice over the next decade, both times putting Smoky back behind the counter for brief periods. Wentzell finally sold the business for the last time in 1989, and the old diner was acquired by an eccentric local collector named Dave Sickler, who parked it at the back of his property and sold off its furnishings.

In 1994 the diner was sold to diner expert Steve Harwin, who began the process of restoration at his shop in Cleveland, Ohio. Harwin completed the elaborately detailed, painstakingly authentic restoration in 2003, at which point the diner was delivered to and installed at the Dingman’s New Hampshire estate by the experienced rigging and transportation firm of O.B. Hill. Since that time, the diner has received a rear addition to its structure with a fully functioning, extremely well-equipped kitchen capable of hosting over 30 guests. While the diner is quite large in and of itself, with cooking surfaces and even an ice cream station and restroom, the adjoining kitchen, with its industrial-sized Sub-Zero refrigerators, additional prep surfaces, and much more, allow the owner to host not only a diner party, but easily a much, much larger event with potential for outdoor seating as well.

The diner is also offered with a comprehensive, lavishly photographed history, “From U.S. 40 to the Back 40: The Story of Smoky Wentzell’s Pole Tavern Diner,” compiled by Richard J.S. Gutman and Kellie O. Gutman, which showcases some amazing original imagery of this very diner – an extraordinary addition to this truly unrepeatable opportunity.

Please note that RM Sotheby’s has conducted extensive research into the removal and transportation procedures required for moving this stunning diner. We have once more engaged O.B. Hill of Boston, Massachusetts, for your convenience, and they remain at your disposal to answer logistical questions and to formalize quotations. O.B. Hill not only installed this diner on the Dingman family farm, but also has extensive experience in precisely these kinds of projects, including, quite notably, the transportation of Lamy’s Diner that resides in The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Furthermore, the diner will need to be transported in two shipments, the second of which will include the contents, kitchen equipment, refrigerators, and so forth. Transportation pricing will depend on the distance involved and the final destination. O.B. Hill can give great specificity on the rigging requirements and expected time frame.

Please refer to an RM Sotheby’s representative for further information and to be connected with O.B. Hill directly.