For most of its 22 years, the big neon sign of the landmark Metro Diner at 3001 E. 11th St. (aka Route 66) in Tulsa greeted diners with this on its marquee: “ELVIS EATS HERE.”
Elvis will have to find someplace else to dine. On Sunday, the Metro closed its doors for good. It soon will be destroyed to make way for a new University of Tulsa entrance.
Signs of the diner’s impending destruction were evident: Land had been cleared around it, and barricades were everywhere (see top photo).
I squeezed in a visit to the Metro right before it finished its final 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. The place was packed with customers, although many were turned away because it began running out of food about 2 p.m.
Many people weren’t there to eat, but to record memories with their digital and video cameras. The restaurant graciously allowed them to shoot away even if they hadn’t bought anything.
I’m not one to skip an opportunity, so here are a few of my photos of the Metro’s distinctive 1950s interior design of chrome, neon lighting and glass brick.
This bunch apparently made the restaurant’s final day a family outing.
I saw at least three TV cameras, many hugs, a few tears and more than a few people saying, “We’re going to miss you.”
In one moment of irony, I heard a song, urging “C’mon baby, let the good times roll,” on the restaurant’s sound system.
One middle-aged, bearded man asked a waitress: “How about a dance?”
The woman replied: “I don’t know about a dance, but I can give you a hug.” To which she did.
Souvenir hunters were busy even before the restaurant closed. Someone pried loose a few of the building’s black-and-pink tiles. No harm if the place is going to get knocked down anyway, I guess.
Before I left, I spotted a chalkboard near the front desk. It said: “Thank you Tulsa for 22 years.” Below it in smaller letters read: “Elvis eats here.”
The Metro was loyal to Elvis — and its customers — to the end.
Here’s an Associated Press article about the Metro’s closing.
Here’s one from KOTV in Tulsa.
Here’s one from the Tulsa World.