Friday, February 10, 2012

One-Stop Lunch By A Choo-Choo in Rego Park - The Hamburger Train!

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Queens Blvd Storefront
The front of the Hamburger Train restaurant. Probably one of the most 
recognizable store fronts in Rego Park, right by the 63rd Drive subway.
Polished stainless steel slanted front in the Art Deco style, with a red & black terrazzo checkered floor. Peeking inside, one can see a large Hamburger Train animated sign , booths along the left, & a traditional counter on the right, where patrons were served hamburgers & other favorites on a toy train. Photo courtesy of

Who remembers eating at the Hamburger Train in Rego Park, and being served your meal from a mechanical toy train which operated on tracks from the kitchen to the counter? The ambiance was Art Moderne, and patrons sat elbow to elbow at a counter or at a booth. Some of you are too young or too new to the neighborhood to be offered this experience, but in a virtual world, you can hop aboard the Hamburger Train in spirit:

The website boasts the Hamburger Train as A NYC legendary luncheonette experience from the late 1950s through the early 1970s...the Hamburger Train. The website was conceived by the son of one of one of the original owners, Stephen Robert Lewis, in order to pay tribute to his legacy in a novelty family business. Hamburger Train was at 96-58 Queens Blvd, which today is the Photosonic custom framing shop near the subway entrance on the south side of Queens Blvd, 5 doors to the east of Ben's Best Deli; another famed institution which lines Queens Blvd since 1947.  Another location of the Hamburger Train was in Greenwich Village.

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Where the cargo was loaded!
Feeding the masses, the train picks up it's delicious cargo hot off the 
grill. This is where it all happened! :-)
The spot where history was made! The train tracks by the grill sure accounts for fast food! Craving crisp French fries at $.30? Image courtesy of

Those were the days when "fast food" was fast but less commercialized. I have been in Forest Hills ever since I opened my eyes (1982), so it is before my time, but as someone who grew up in the neighborhood & takes pride in history, it's always fascinating to hear who has memories of yesteryear, which are very much alive today. 

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The Menu
The Rego Park menu. Egg Cream... 20 cents! Anyone remember that?
Today, ordering a few meals from this menu wouldn't break your budget. Does The Train Beefburger & a treat from the Ice Cream Parlor Car fancy your appetite? Image courtesy of

In Forest Hills, an eatery which operated under the train delivery concept existed as Hamburger Express, is now the Austin House Diner at 72-04 Austin St, which has the same red terrazzo floors today. This outside of the box concept, coupled with the ice cream soda fountains & counters in pharmacies, made Forest Hills & Rego Park a more close-knit, creative, & personalized neighborhood in our heyday. Soda fountains existed at Sutton Hall Pharmacy on Austin St & Ascan Ave (Sutton Hall Apts), the Midway Pharmacy on the north side of Queens Blvd & 67th Dr corner, Woolworth's on Continental Ave & Austin St (2 entrances) as well as Queens Blvd & 63rd Dr, and at McCrory's at Queens Blvd & 63rd Dr (2 entrances).

Getting back to the Hamburger Train, anyone interested in reopening this intriguing eatery in Rego Park, and entertaining children of a new generation? E-mail

1 comment:

  1. I vividly remember having been taken there as a kid in the mid-late 60's. The pink or blue plates used to be mounted on the specially designed/ modified flatbed cars on the Lionel train that used to leave the grill and amazingly stop in front of your counter spot!