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It's Happy Days in Northfleet as Hot Rod Diner brings back taste of 1950s

PUBLISHED: 09:43 20 June 2013 | UPDATED: 09:43 20 June 2013

Waitress Jessicah Tuffield could have wandered in from the Happy Days set as she delivers a belly-busting burger.

Waitress Jessicah Tuffield could have wandered in from the Happy Days set as she delivers a belly-busting burger.

Archant

The 1950s are coming to Northfleet. The sight of leather jacket wearing, comb carrying rock 'n' rollers taking control of the jukebox could soon become a reality after Hot Rod Diner opened on Sunday.

Staff at the newly opened Hot Rod Diner: (from l to r)  Hannah Hatfield, Darron Webb, Jamie Scamp, Danielle Gay, Peter Gurr and Jessicah Tuffield.Staff at the newly opened Hot Rod Diner: (from l to r) Hannah Hatfield, Darron Webb, Jamie Scamp, Danielle Gay, Peter Gurr and Jessicah Tuffield.

The vintage-themed restaurant aims to deliver a slice of authentic American pie to customers with stateside staples such as hamburgers, hot dogs and fries on the menu.

Converted from the former Route 16 car showroom, the diner in Northfleet High Street is owned by Ian Gay who decided to take a leap in a new direction when time was called on the dealership.

More than 800 customers flooded through the doors for the grand opening, which he described as “absolutely fantastic”.

Though the site is now a diner, Ian, who also owns G&M Motors in Milton Road, Gravesend, has kept it in touch with its past.

“It’s an all-American theme and there are classic American car parts in there too,” said Ian. “We’ve got half a classic car that’s been cleaned up and is now on the wall so there’s definitely a car theme in there.”

The showroom was bought by Ian 20 years ago and he says it was always his intention to open an American diner – influenced heavily by his love of US cars such as Ford Mustangs, Cadillacs and Chevys.

He says it will be “like a scene from Happy Days or Grease” when customers open the diner doors, complete with a chessboard floor, neon lights and a working, vintage jukebox.

The diner has already attracted the attention of “petrolheads” such as the local BMW owners club who will use it as a venue for regular meetings.

Other customers, not necessarily drawn by the lure of cars, may enjoy live music at Hot Rods, bringing the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll to Northfleet.

Good Rockin’ Tonight, the self-proclaimed number one rock ‘n’ roll show in the UK, played the opening night on Sunday and could open the door for more hip-shaking, guitar-swinging action.

Ian, who for the past few months has been splitting his time between G&M Motors and Hot Rod Diner, has described the experience of opening it as “a lot of hard work”.

He said: “It’s been a very busy time and I’ve found myself running here, there and everywhere to get everything ready. But it’s a really exciting time for us and we’re just hoping now that the diner is a big hit with the local community.”

n Hot Rod Diner is open for business. To find out more and see pictures of the restaurant’s development, visit facebook.com/pjs.diner.50.

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