Theatres were centers of commercial activity with businesses clustering around them. Before theatres opened their own concession stands, candy stores and luncheonettes were often located next door. Diners were also an important part of this landscape. Like theatres, they were important cultural institutions where people came for much more than a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. They were gathering places where people socialized and news and ideas were transmitted. Phyllis D'Amore captured this sentiment perfectly on the card for her diner in Everett, Massachusetts which she ran for many years. It read: "Phyllis's Diner, Where You're Only A Stranger Once." It's little surprise that presidential candidates often begin their campaigns with a meal and a photo op at a diner. In Burlington, Vermont, the Oasis Diner has a plaque on the booth where Bill Clinton stopped at the beginning of his first campaign.
Unlike today when many diners serve only breakfast and lunch, most were open until late at night and some never closed at all. In Davis Square there was the Pine Tree and Rosebud, in Union Square, Blairs, and in East Somerville, a White Tower. Not far from the Orpheum, and just a block from Charles Tufts' original home on Washington Street, was Buddy's Truck Stop. A 1929 Worcester Car with only 20 stools and no booths, Buddy's first opened in Leominster where it was known as Sawin's. How it arrived in Somerville is not clear though lore has it that it was discovered in a barn in New Hampshire in 1951 and moved to its present location by Max Schrubnick who renamed it Cousins. When Schrubnick bought Blairs' Diner in Union Square, he took the name with him. After a year as Jerry's Diner, Alphonsus "Buddy" Barrett bought it and renamed it Buddy's Truck Stop in recognition of Washington Street's importance as a major truck route. Buddy's son John eventually took it over, running it with his wife Sue for forty years before retiring in April 2006. Its new owner is 22-year old Nicole Dairos whose aunt and cousin alternate on the grill. She has also had the sign repainted, shortening the name to Buddy's.