PLAINFIELD, Ind. -- In today’s hectic world, it’s easy for many of us to wish we could just go back to a simpler time.
Well, what if I told you that you can?
A trip to the Oasis Diner located at 405 W. Main Street in Plainfield feels a lot like being transported back in time. From the old-school lunchboxes on the wall, to the vintage waitress uniforms on display, oldies music in the air and plenty of Hoosier favorites on the menu, it’s easy to see why people have loved this timeless treasure for over 60 years.
However, if it wasn’t for one of Indiana’s very own, the Oasis Diner’s legacy could have ended nearly a decade ago.
“This is an original diner from 1954. It was manufactured in New Jersey and shipped here via the railroad to about four miles east of where we are now,” said co-owner Doug Huff.
The Oasis Diner was already a Plainfield staple for decades before it shut down in 2008 in light of the previous owner’s declining health. It sat empty for two years before Huff and business partner Don Rector got involved and decided it was time to breathe life back into the place.
“I always drove by the old diner when it was shut down and just thought it was a shame that it wasn’t open,” he said. “So when the town of Plainfield started looking into relocating it, they contacted me and it seemed like a good fit.”
With a background in the construction field, Huff had never worked in the restaurant business but he hit the ground running, researching how to best accomplish the project.
After three and a half years of planning and with several Plainfield residents lining the streets to watch the procession, the front of the diner was loaded onto a semi and hauled down the street to its current location.
Huff took great care to restore the Oasis to its original glory, which included replicating the original paint scheme.
“We tried to reproduce the back exactly like it was at the original diner,” he explained. “So we took the limestone off of the original diner and reused it on this new location.”
The front portion of the diner is almost entirely original, including everything from the tiles on the floor to the stools where countless customers have sat over the years, considering the menu options.
For some of their oldest customers, seeing the Oasis Diner restored to what they remembered as a child proved to be a bit of an emotional trip down memory lane.
“We’ve had customers here before that ate at the diner on the first day that it opened in 1954, so all the way back to the very beginning,” said Huff.
According to Huff, bringing back those warm memories is a major part of the experience they hope to create for each of their customers.
“What we try to do here is highlight the diner through the different decades, so we know that people ate here in the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s, so people have different memories and different experiences from different decades with the diner so we try to highlight that in our décor and our music,” he said.
Four Things You Need to Know About The Oasis Diner:
- The Oasis Diner is one of Plainfield’s oldest and most beloved businesses. It originally opened in 1954 but sat empty from 2008-2010 until co-owner Doug Huff and his business partner, Don Rector, breathed new life into the place. They literally moved the diner down the road and restored it to its former glory, while retaining almost all of the original aspects of the front portion of the diner.
- Love good food and a sweet deal? Check out their Blue Plate Specials, available every night. “We have a ribeye dinner, a chicken dinner, pork chop dinner. All of our meat is cut in-house, including our tenderloins and so those have been really popular with our guests as well,” said Huff.
- The Oasis Diner is connected to all of Plainfield’s great trail systems, so it’s a perfect place to stop off for lunch or a butterscotch root beer on a summer day. Plus, they have created a really wonderful dog-friendly space on your patio with water bowls, treats available and everything a pup—and their owner—could want.
- Not only can you come in and enjoy great food inside the diner but they also offer catering!
Classic favorites are also found on the menu. The Oasis Diner offers everything from hand-dipped ice cream, locally made desserts and baked goods, and handcrafted sodas.
“We exclusively have a butterscotch root beer that’s sold here at the Oasis Diner,” said Huff.
Not only can you order that delectable root beer in a frosty mug at the diner itself, you can also purchase a refillable growler to take home.
Without a doubt, their top-selling item is the classic Indiana favorite: tenderloin, which you can get in various forms including the traditional “tenderloin is bigger than the bun” classic sandwich or as more petite yet equally scrumptious sliders.
“Our tenderloin by far is our most popular dish. We’re consistently ranked in the top 10 tenderloins in Indiana,” Huff said.
Their biggest seasonal favorite has to be the fried green tomatoes, which you can get by itself with a Sriracha ranch-style dipping sauce or on a BLT. But as any Hoosier knows when it comes to fresh tomatoes, they are only here for a limited time.
Breakfast is served all day and offerings include classics like pancakes and waffles, omelets and an entire category called “National Road Specials,” which are named after various cities located along U.S. 40.
“The diner has always sat here on U.S. 40, which is the National Road, so we kind of wanted to pay tribute to that, how important the National Road has been to our history,” said Huff.
Top sellers include the Indianapolis, featuring tenderloin smothered in sausage gravy, and the equally appetizing Kansas City.
“[It’s] our loaded biscuits and gravy with our homemade biscuits covered with sausage gravy, home fries, two eggs, bacon and cheese,” he said.
After enjoying all that food, you can burn it off by stepping outside and onto one of Plainfield’s many walking/biking trails.
“Being here in the middle of Plainfield, we’re connected to all the trail systems… Plainfield has a great trail system,” Huff noted. “We get a lot of dog walkers, so half of our patio is actually dog-friendly. We have water available for them, treats available for them.”
For more information about the Oasis Diner, check out their website by clicking here. To see more photos and reviews by local Yelpers, check out their Yelp profile. You can also connect with them via Facebook and Instagram.
While in Plainfield, check out some of the area’s other top-rated hot spots: