bringing back good times and great food

Empty Booth, Rockin’ Johnny’s Diner, Ottawa 2007

© Leslie Hossack

Today’s post features my photograph of Rockin’ Johnny’s Diner in Ottawa. In 1991, the first Rockin’ Johnny’s Diner™ was opened by brothers Enzo and Jack Mastromattei who set out to recreate the days when jukeboxes were rockin’, the Big Bopper was bobbin’, Marilyn Monroe was stealing hearts, and Elvis was King. They wanted to return to the days when dining out was like eating at home. Their slogan fits right in: bringing back good times and great food. For more about Rockin’ Johnny’s in Ottawa, visit

Yesterday on Haute Vitrine, I started this series with a photograph of La Binerie Mont-Royal. This restaurant was established in Montreal in 1940 by brothers Joachim and Léonide Lussier who decided that traditional Québec Cuisine served in a family ambiance would be the hallmark of their restaurant. The English translation of their slogan is: At the Beanery, you are visiting family. Welcome home! For more about the history of La Binerie Mont-Royal, see

Public spaces and familiar items from previous generations fascinate me. I don’t live in the past, but I do feel a strong sense of time running through my photographs. I hear a narrative in every series and I see a story in every image.

In 2007, I photographed more than 30 diners, both vintage and contemporary. These include classics such as the Templeton in Vancouver, and lost icons such as the Canary in Toronto and Bens in Montreal. This is a study of retro diners from Atlantic Canada to Vancouver.

Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to eschew conventional status symbols. Consequently, I love the way the camera allows me to attribute elevated status to everyday objects and places, to portray the inclusive as exclusive – even diners.