Minneapolis: Town Talk Diner one step closer to historic designation

The Town Talk Diner on East Lake Street is one step closer to becoming a historical landmark. Yesterday, the Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) approved the recommendation that the Diner receive the historical designation. The Commission will pass its recommendation on to the City Council for final approval of the Town Talk Diner as a historic landmark.

The Town Talk Diner opened for the first time in 1946 by enterprising restauranteur Paul Pearson to feed hungry Minneapolis-Moline factory workers. Pearson built the diner on a small vacant strip between two buildings on the bustling Lake Street near Minnehaha Avenue. The majority of the city had been built out with the post-war boom, so the postage-size lot was likely one of the better options Pearson had when considering a location for his business.

It was built in the Streamline Moderne architectural style with a stainless steel exterior, “streamlined” decorative elements, flush mounted windows, and unique turquoise sign.

The hole-in-the-wall diner would be hard to find without its distinctive signage. The Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) reported, “The sign is likely the only reason that the Town Talk Diner existed for as long as it did….The large sign was an innovative way to draw attention and customers to the diner, which would have been easy to overlook.”

If the diner is designated a historical landmark, it will join three other Longfellow landmarks: Christ Lutheran Church, old East Lake Library, and El Largo Theater. The designation would protect the property and would require future modifications to be approved by CPED and HPC. However, HPC states that it works with owners and occupants of historic landmarks to “adaptively reuse” the landmark and “enable historic building[s] to remain a part of the city’s living history.”

The Town Talk Diner is located at 2707-1/2 East Lake Street, Minneapolis.

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Rebekah Peterson's picture
Rebekah Peterson