Thursday, November 18, 2010

Artifact Spotlight: Ayres Diners Menu, ca. 1956-1964

TBHC 2010.043.001
Gift of Jessica Miller
 Long-time Tampa residents will certainly remember, and may have enjoyed dining at, one of the three Ayres Diners located around Tampa. The original Ayres Diner, located at 603 W. Lafayette Street, opened in 1948 and featured a neon sign designed by Tampa’s John Cinchett that boasted the diner was “Always Open.” The diner proved popular among University of Tampa students for its proximity to campus and around-the-clock service, before closing for good in the early 1990s.

Owned and operated by Millard Ayres, the business grew in the 1950s to include locations on South Dale Mabry Highway and Florida Avenue. Built in a prefabricated, “rail-car” style, the diner on Dale Mabry eventually moved to the corner of Himes and Cypress, under new management and a different name, before closing around 2003. The location on Florida Avenue remains open to this day under the name Nicko’s Diner, perhaps best known as the site of a meal eaten by Elvis Presley following his 1956 concert in Tampa.

Highlights of this menu include a $2.00 broiled or grilled filet mignon wrapped in bacon, a $1.00 fried shrimp dinner, a 95-cent sliced chicken club sandwich, an 85-cent tender and juicy grilled steak sandwich, a 45-cent cheeseburger and three hot cakes with bacon or sausage for 50 cents. Assuming this menu was printed in 1956, the year the third Ayres location on Dale Mabry opened, this order totaling $5.75 would cost – prior to tax and tip -- $44.88 in today’s dollars.


  1. I liked the way you put together everything, there is certainly no need to go any further to look for any additional information. You mentioned each and everything that too with much of ease. I appreciate your work. Thanks.

    Tampa Local Movers

  2. I am a young man of 25. My family owned this Diner. Thank you for helping people to remember this place. My Grandfather is quite proud of his time working at this Diner, and having the opportunity to serve The King.

  3. was there some kind of tunnel underground ?

  4. I worked at Ayers on S. Dale Mabry. It was a great place to work!



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