The diner is a true original. It was built in 1948 by the prolific New Jersey diner manufacturer, Fodero Dining Car Co., and served customers in Cranford and Bound Brook, NJ, from that date until 1999. It was the popular Bound Brook Diner for 40+ years before it was forced to close after Hurricane Floyd flooded the restaurant in 1999.
The Bound Brook was one of the most popular iconic diners in New Jersey because of its classic details and good food. A photo of its interior became the cover of Peter Genovese's book Jersey Diners in 1996. It was this book and its cover photo that sparked the fire of inspiration in Matt and Steve.
In 2001, Matt and Steve read an article in a local Charlotte paper in which a prominent city leader stated that Uptown Charlotte would never be considered a "real" metropolitan city until it had a 24-hour restaurant. The two had spent their careers managing popular restaurants for other people, and were more than ready to start one of their own. This newspaper article provided them with the motivation they needed to pursue their dream. They agreed with this city leader and decided then that what this city needed was a diner—a 24 hour place that served good food at reasonable prices.
• SLIDESHOW: Mattie's Diner's Journey From Jersey To Charlotte
Matt grew up in New Jersey and was already familiar with diner culture. That, coupled with the knowledge that there was an increasingly large population of northerners living in Charlotte who also craved an authentic diner experience, fueled the quest to open one of their own. Matt referred to a favorite book he had at home: Genovese's Jersey Diners. He didn't have to look past the cover, as that photo of Bound Brook Diner's counter represented everything that was great about diners.
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They had to find this diner. Most people thought it had been lost forever to Hurricane Floyd, which devastated Bound Brook, and the diner, in 1999. Through great determination and exhaustive research, Matt and Steve discovered that the diner did in fact still exist. It was owned by a Frank Bruno, and after calling 42 different Frank Brunos in the South Jersey phonebook, Matt finally found the rightful owner.
Steve and Matt's perseverance paid off, and Bruno was willing to part with this piece of Jersey history in order to see it get a new lease on life. He had kept the diner in storage, in Bridgewater, NJ after purchasing it from the original owner, George Psak. Mr. Psak had retired after the hurricane, having successfully run the diner for 44 years. Finally, in 2005, Matt and Steve brought the diner to Charlotte (literally moving it, by flat-bed truck) and began the painstaking process of restoring it to its original glory of stainless steel and neon. With the help of countless friends and family members, and through their own dedication and commitment, Matt and Steve accomplished their dream and opened the doors to Mattie's Diner in August, inviting a new generation (and even some who remember the original) of guests to enjoy great food, great service and a great experience.
Mattie's Diner serves traditional diner favorites like burgers and shakes. They have also included some New Jersey favorites such as Taylor Ham and Disco Fries. Now that it is a southern diner however, regional favorites like Fried Pickles and Livermush have not been forgotten.
The diner is open 24 hours from Thursday through Sunday. Monday hours are 11am-3pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 9am-9pm. The diner remains open after hours when there are concerts and special events at the NC Music Factory.
Mattie's Diner is located directly across from The Fillmore, at 915 Hamilton Street.
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