C/O @electricdinerhamont

Through both its decor and food, Electric Diner is a throwback to the ’80s

Located at 96 George Street, Electric Diner brings patrons back into a 1980s nostalgia wonderland. Cooking to the tune of the jukebox, owners Erika Puckering and Jamie Ewing invite you to take a seat at a booth, put down your cell phones and enjoy some comfort food. 

Puckering grew up in Ottawa, where she attended school for fine arts and developed her love of visual design. After many years at her small marketing company, she relinquished the hustle and bustle to start a family business in Hamilton. With her husband Ewing, Puckering settled down to open Electric Diner. 

The diner is the perfect intersection of Ewing’s culinary innovation and Puckering’s visual design. Puckering’s visual prowess manifests itself in the bright colour scheme, with tastefully over-the-top hot pink barstools, neon signs and sparkled paint. The ‘80s aesthetic comes out in details such as the jukebox and antique accents. They drew from their shared childhood experiences to create an epicentre of nostalgia.

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“[The ‘80s were] a very different time than what we’re living in right now. There were no cell phones. When you [were] trying to find your friend, you would just . . . find their bikes on the front lawn and that’s how you’d know where they were,” said Puckering.

“[The ‘80s were] a very different time than what we’re living in right now. There were no cell phones. When you [were] trying to find your friend, you would just . . . find their bikes on the front lawn and that’s how you’d know where they were.”

For the full sensory experience, a projector plays movies all day long, mimicking the experience of early morning retro cartoons. 

“[Now] we have Netflix you can watch whatever you want, but back then if it was on it’s on and if you missed it, you missed it . . . so we play cartoons from the ’80s like He-Man and Transformers on Saturday and Sunday mornings so everyone can experience all five senses,” said Puckering.

 

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The flavours of the menu are equally suited to the diner’s eclectic and vibrant atmosphere, as Ewing elevates traditional diner food. 

“[We} have a grilled cheese eggs benny, so instead of an English muffin it’s two miniature grilled cheese . . . it’s like an elevated eggs benedict, so it feels higher end but it’s also comforting,” said Puckering.

A fan favourite is the classic Electric Burger, where their commitment to sourcing local produce shines through. The burger is made using local artisanal bread, ground beef from a local butcher and a touch of hickory sticks for Jamie’s own spin on your classic burger. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the diner was open exclusively for takeout and pick-up in late March. Outdoor seating re-opened in mid-June. Currently, Electric Diner has an outdoor heated tent on the patio for diners looking to enjoy their food in an open, well-ventilated space. They have further adopted rigorous sanitation measures to ensure the safety of all diners. 

While the diner initially struggled with reducing employee hours as business slowed, Puckering and Ewing try to maintain a positive outlook on the situation and used the pandemic as an opportunity to expand their social media presence. 

“Our amount of followers and online presence really excelled during that time, so there’s sort of a silver lining. When we reopened, it was busier than it had ever been . . . it’s not about survival, it’s about adapting and changing,” said Puckering.

“Our amount of followers and online presence really excelled during that time, so there’s sort of a silver lining. When we reopened, it was busier than it had ever been . . . it’s not about survival, it’s about adapting and changing,” said Puckering.

As Electric Diner adapts their ’80s setting to the climate of 2020, the diner serves as a reminder to all to live in the moment. Ewing and Puckering continue to find ways to be creative with the tools at their disposal and make the best of each day.

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