Oysters on the square: Ted’s tiny diner was a big deal at Broad and Main

By on October 26, 2016
Ted’s College Diner was the hottest little spot in downtown Lititz in the late 1930s. This view is looking west, across Route 501 and toward West Main Street. This scene has changed considerably since then.

Ted’s College Diner was the hottest little spot in downtown Lititz in the late 1930s. This view is looking west, across Route 501 and toward West Main Street. This scene has changed considerably since then.

 

For several years, oysters were the delicacy of choice at restaurants all over Lancaster County.

Lititz was no exception.

Many recall dinners at Bingy’s restaurant, while others may remember another iconic place that once stood at the town square — Ted’s Diner.

Records indicate that owner Ted Stauffer constructed the small building himself, and when it opened in November of 1937, due to its size, it was mistaken by at least one passer-by as Lititz’s new post office.

Often referred to as Ted’s College Diner, as a means to attract teachers from Linden Hall Junior College down the street, the official address was 2 N. Broad St., situated on the northwest corner of the square, at the intersection of Main and Broad.

Shortly after it opened, the following blurb appeared in the Lititz Record Express:

Open “Diner” On Square

“Ted Stauffer has erected a small frame building on the northwest corner of the square, and in it has opened a “diner” or small restaurant. He is preparing some specialties and invites his friends and other hungry patrons for a warm bite.”

While the business only seated 16 customers, the operation was a true family affair. Stauffer had the assistance of wife Dorothy, son Clyde, and daughter Jane.

And if the restaurant’s operating hours were any indication (6 a.m. to 2 a.m.), the family sure spent a lot of time there.

In addition to oysters, Ted’s also served soups, sandwiches and light lunches, refreshing soda pop, and desserts. A jukebox was also on-site, which surely made it an attractive after-school spot for Lititz teenagers.

The tiny eatery proved to be very popular, and by April of 1938 Stauffer doubled its size. The original building was moved slightly to the west and used as the kitchen area. The newly-added section would provide additional seating for patrons.

“I remember it pretty well,” says John Stauffer of Lititz. John is Ted’s son, and although he was a young boy at the time, he has fond memories of growing up around the business.

“My mom and dad prepared everything, but mom made all the baked goods,” he said. “As soon as I woke up, I was down at the restaurant. At lunch time it was always full. Dad also sold oysters at the Ephrata Fair and the Lititz Farm Show.”

After the diner closed, his father peddled baked goods around Lititz, Manheim and Ephrata, eventually opening his “4-Star Bakery” on South Broad Street, just a few doors from the location of his former restaurant.

Today, gone might be the era of sitting at the counter at Benner’s, Bingy’s, Glassmyer’s or Ted’s, but the cherished memories we have of these beloved spots shall remain with us for a lifetime.

Cory Van Brookhoven is the president of the Lititz Historical Foundation and a regular contributor of historical features to the Record Express. He can be reached at coryvb@hotmail.com.

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