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Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Then & Now: Dinette Restaurant, 1951 and 2013

SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — The street address no longer exists, but in 1951 the Dinette Restaurant, at 4640 N. Florida Ave., was a popular hangout for Hillsborough High School students.

(The 53-year-old photograph shown here was provided by John Cinchett, author of “Vintage Tampa Signs and Scenes.”)

Frank Cinchett, John Cinchett’s father, operated Cinchett Sign Co. near Florida and Osborne Avenue, just south of the Dinette. The signs in the old photograph were installed by his business.

John Cinchett remembered his father once worked at the Dinette and made milkshakes.

It was a short walk from the high school on Central Avenue to the Dinette, where students met up with friends and ordered hamburgers, fries and milk shakes.

Owner Richard Ward advertised his diminutive restaurant, at the corner of Florida and Curtis Street, as the “smallest drive-in in town.” It was catty-cornered from where Nicko’s Diner is today, on the opposite side of Florida.

A warehouse now stands at the site formerly occupied by the Dinette. But the tree with branches spreading over the burger stand in 1951 might be the same one flourishing on the corner today.

City directories first mentioned the Dinette in 1950. It had vanished from the directory by 1957, replaced by Kwik Burger the following year. Kwik Burger lasted through the mid-1960s. In 1968 the city directory listed the property as vacant.

Kathy Steele

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