Saturday, March 9, 2013

Vintage Playtown Luncheonette

Welcome back to Playtown: I've posted before about this line of miniature shops and accessories made in New York from the 1940s - 1950s. The sets ranged from a small, simple grocery store to a deluxe diner called the Playtown Luncheonette, while other items included a bakery and a meat market. Sold separately, together they made up a miniature municipality able to meet the shopping and dining needs of most small doll and teddy bear inhabitants.

The Playtown pieces have a devoted fan base, spurred both by nostalgia and the considerable charm of the toys' design.

Here's the luncheonette, which I found unplayed with in its original box, its accessories still sealed in a brittle cellophane bag. (Which is not the case any longer...)

The luncheonette measures 10 inches wide by 6 high, and came packed in this cardboard box.

The diner came with wooden stools, bowls, plates, cups, and bottles; an assortment of plaster food items; a plastic Renwal radio; and metal accessories including a cash register, toaster, and waffle iron. I added the pastry case, coffee pot, soda dispenser, and plate of donuts (a diner has to have donuts.)

The diner features very authentic stencilled signage advertising its specials, including grilled cheese, pancakes, and a banana split (only 25 cents!) along with very vintage images of a waitress and chef. The Coca-Cola logo is original to the luncheonette, and makes this Playtown set also sought by Coke collectors.

The plastic Renwal radio is the same one used in dollhouses of the period.

What's to eat? Hot dogs and hamburgers, of course! These examples are of molded and painted plaster.

The plaster desserts in the display case are also original to the set, but a bit mystifying. Are they Jellos? Cakes? A Jello and a cake? I suspect the yellow one on the left may be an apple dumpling.

While the Playtown shops are fantastic toys on their own, and loads of fun to set up and accessorize, they also make great display props for miniature dolls and bears. The little dolls made in this same era by the Flagg company are perfectly sized to staff the luncheonette.

Order up!  A slider and two dogs on a bun.

Bears get hungry too. This miniature Steiff is just the right height to eye the pastry case.


  1. What a great slice of the past this diner is! It reminds me of the diners in the "Henry" books I loved as a child. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. Wow, what a great "taste" of history. Great photos too!

  3. Replies
    1. Tracy, If you ever consider selling the luncheonette, please contact me. I have been searching for one for five years!

    2. Hi Patti,

      Yes, I would consider selling you this toy, but it would depend on where you are, and what you think of the price (it was costly.) You can email me at spudbrain1 at yahoo (dot) com.


  4. What a find! Original box, with the accessories in the original cellophane after sixty-plus years? That's astonishing! You must be a regular Indiana Jones of toy collecting to track down rarities like this!

    1. No, just a sometimes insomnia-driven eBay browser!