Jerry’s Diner, gone from Stroudsburg for more than 15 years, was a community landmark at 207 N. Ninth St. Once known as the Lackawanna Trail Diner, Jerry’s listing faded from the local phone books in 1996-’97.
In March 1999, Jerry's Diner was moved for restoration. The diner is now Towanda.
The name most associated with the diner is George Metropoulos.
Metropoulos operated the diner until the early 1950s, returning to his hometown in Greece in 1958.
The well-known businessman traveled back to Stroudsburg during July 1965, and the local newspaper – The Pocono Record – published an article about the former owner’s visit.
The last of the items inside Jerry's are packed as the 1920s diner is prepared for its move.
A few tidbits about Jerry’s Diner:
• Edith M. Werkheiser for many years, helped manage the Lackawanna Trail Diner, retiring in 1958. Werkheiser died in 1998 at the 91.
• In the 1940s and ’50s, the Lackawanna Trail Diner was the hangout for “Old Ninth Street Gang.”
• In 1999, the Jerry’s Diner was moved to Towanda and now houses the Red Rose Diner.
The Old Ninth Street Gang chows down at Besecker's Diner, Stroud Township, in 2006.
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Jerry’s Diner is not forgotten. Check out the following letter, which the Pocono Record received in January 2015:
Dear Pocono Record:
In Bradford County there is only one sure way to know if it is Wednesday. No, it’s not Prince Spaghetti day. Neither is it the one-day-of-the-week where the famous 1927 prices on the antique menu – posted over the grill – are honored nor is the day the diner offers lamb tongues at 30 cents or apple pie at 10 cents. Wednesday is the day Betty Roof bakes doughnuts.
An advertisement published in The Pocono Record during the mid-1970s.
The 1927 menu shows them at two for 5 cents, but Betty offers them free as a way of saying thanks for being her loyal customer at the 1927-built Red Rose Tierney diner. The Red Rose was known as Jerry’s in Stroudsburg.
It’s first come first serve, and no one seems to pig out as not to ruin a good thing. Betty has run diners most of her adult life, and at more than 70 she shows no signs of slowing down. We may not be able to go back in time, but on Wednesdays at the Red Rose Diner at 526 Main St., Towanda, Pennsylvania, it’s the next best thing.
Joseph DuPont, Towanda
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View a photo gallery of Jerry’s Diner.
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When Maria Kopas read the blog entry about Jerry’s Diner, she was surprised to find that a major part of the restaurant’s history had been excluded. Missing from the entry was the story of the diligent, hardworking woman – her mother – for whom the diner was named.
Geraldine “Jerry” Dragusha, a widow and single mother of two daughters, moved from New York to the Poconos in 1982. That was the year she opened Jerry’s Diner.
Working five days a week, about 14 hours a day for 14 years, Jerry ran the diner, doing it all from waitressing to cooking to washing dishes. She gave herself a break on Saturdays, working only eight hours.
Although Jerry's Diner closed in 1996, it was still sporting a sign three years later, advertising coffee at 25 cents per cup.
Jerry served only homemade meals made from groceries bought daily. Since Jerry’s didn’t drive, she relied on friends and her daughters – when they started to drive – to chauffeur her to and from the diner and to the local grocery store.
“We would always tell my mom that she should just have deliveries made and to buy from food companies but she never did as she wanted to make sure everything was fresh.” Maria wrote. The only things delivered were coffee, milk, cheese, eggs and bread.
During the first year of operation, Jerry ran the diner with cousins 24/7. But when the cousins left the business, the hours had be cut.
Nevertheless, the restaurant was packed daily with local workers from construction and gas company workers to car dealers and courthouse employees.
“Breakfast and lunch time was crazy busy, and I still have no idea how she did it on her own,” Maria wrote.
Jerry’s daughters helped out when they could, but it was such a small place that more than two people behind the counter became a hazard. “Besides, no one did it like my Mom.”
She never wrote anything down, handling up to 50 orders at once. “She was and is the hardest worker I know,” her daughter added.
Jerry held onto the tradition of the diner from the décor to the prices. She didn’t make a lot of money, evening losing money on tabs kept for her regular customers.
“We would try to convince her to raise the prices but it wasn’t about that for my mom, it was about the people that came there and the friendships that formed at that little diner on 9th Street,” Maria wrote.
When the sisters were married many of the customers were at their weddings, one even walked Maria down the aisle. They’re still in touch with the many of restaurant’s customers, who are like family. The friendships made at the diner will last a lifetime, Maria added.
After years of renting, Jerry, uncertain of the diner’s future, decided to close the business. The building’s owner was looking for a collector to buy the classic modular diner.
On the day the diner was taken out of Stroudsburg, Jerry’s family, friends and former customers were there to say good-bye. “It was and will always be my Mom’s diner and we are so blessed to have been part of Stroudsburg’s history.”
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Another reader, Russ Irwin of Maine, formerly of the Poconos, also shared his memories of Jerry’s:
Manning's 1980s directory listing for Bob's E Place.
“The diner had twelve counter stools and four tables with two chairs each,” he wrote. “One cigar box on either end of the back of the counter area to make change and a cash register in the middle.”
Owners over the years included George Metropolous and Nick Russopolous, Floyd Koehler, Clint Besecker and Bob Besecker, he added.
Taking a tip from Russ, it was learned that during the late 1970s and early ’80s, the diner sported other names – Bob’s or Bob E’s Place and Besecker’s.