By BETH ALTENA A viral pandemic destroyed the world and wiped out half the population of the Earth. Technology is not only devastated, but actually outlawed. The remaining population survives by scavenging, struggling to make do, get by and fight rampant corruption. And some of it happens in Rosie’s Diner. Land of the Outlaws producer Phil Sieb grew up half in Grand Rapids and half in Detroit and is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He spent ten years in Los Angles, working on the production Ancient Aliens and on the History Channel, Food Network and Women’s Entertainment. He worked on feature films and multiple independent productions before returning to Michigan. Now he is filming in various locations in West Michigan creating the vision of the future written by co-producer Michael Dault, who wrote Land of the Outlaws and co-stars in it. On Tuesday, August 4, the film crew worked in and around Rosie’s, the first day of a nine day shoot that include sites in Greenville, Rockford and Sparta. Filming also took place at the abandoned 101-year old West Cannon Baptist Church on the corner of Pettis and Five Mile (now possibly demolished, according to plans outline in an article by the Grand Rapids Press). “It’s very Mad Max and spaghetti western,” Sieb said of the story line. Inside Rosie’s the set evokes the landscape of a possible future with no technology. Chairs are made from wood pallets and rubber strips from tires. Vehicles are pared-down old, old models before the fancy bells and whistles of more recent makes and models. No GPS, no electric windows, no cell chargers. The cast and crew declined to allow photography on the set and didn’t want to be spoilers for the show, which may end up on television or be viewable in other multimedia. He said the success of the project could mean a bright future with eventual comic books and games. “But the tv series is the main thing.” He said the future of the project might well end up as a webseries or something online. Production is expected to be complete for the pilot in 2015.
Rosie’s, two other diners, open at $25,000 by BETH ALTENA With an opening bid of $25,000, online bidders can have a chance to own a piece of American history as Rosie’s, two other diners and a mini-golf course on four-and-a-half acres at 4500 14 Mile Road, goes on the auction block. According to Doug Heuker of LastBIDRealestate.com, the property, then a going business, was purchased in the range of $450,000 by Jonelle and Randy Roest of Whitehall in January 2006. The diners had been slated to be auctioned on January 31, when owner Jerry Berta of Rockford accepted the couple’s offer, canceling the auction. Today, the situation is different after remaining owner Jonelle Woods (formerly Roest) closed the doors without notice in October 2011. Employees were told the diner was to be closed for a few days, but when they returned to work found the diners gutted of memorabilia and kitchen equipment and the locks on the doors changed. Calls to Woods’ phone were answered by a notice that the number was no longer working and television crews knocked at the door to her home without response. The diner has a long history as an American icon after the public saw it in commercials for Pepsi, Sanka coffee and Bounty paper towels in the 1970s. The Bounty commercials were most responsible for the diner’s fame and featured the late actress Nancy Walker. Walker demonstrated the towels as the “quicker picker upper” as she cleaned up the numerous and frequent spills of the diner’s many clumsy patrons. Rosie’s was built by the Paramount Dining Car Company in 1946 and was then called the Silver Dollar Diner. It was located on U.S. Route 46 in Little Ferry, New Jersey when it opened and was operated for over four decades by Ralph Corrado Sr. and then Ralph Corrado Jr. During the 45 years father and then son operated the diner, other companies, including Sony and Ethan Allen Furniture also used the structure as the setting for television advertisements. Whether because of its commercial fame, or the charming reminder of American traditional mobile roadside eateries, Rosie’s has made national news over the years. According to an article reprinted from Media and Consumer in the Florida newspaper the Lakeland Ledger […]
Berta featured on NPR’s ‘What Do Ya Know’ by BETH ALTENA Jerry Berta is well known in Rockford for his dining-car fame, having purchased and operated Rosie’s Diner for years. Now in the hands of owners Randy and Jonelle Roest, the diner is still associated with Berta. Less well known is that Berta was once interviewed on National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) show “What Do Ya Know” with Michael Feldman. Berta, along with his wife, has managed the difficult task of earning a living as an artist and works in ceramic and neon. Now “newbies” or old hands at ceramic art can learn from Berta in his new Rockford Community Education (RCE) class, which is held at Rockford High School. Rosie’s Diner, located on M-57 in the CedarRock business district, is nationally known for the Brawny “Quicker Picker Upper” commercials featuring Nancy Walker as Rosie the waitress. Rosie’s Diner wasn’t Berta’s first, however. Berta has been a lifelong fan of dining cars and used to travel to the country’s east coast where the old mobile restaurants were more common. Berta found Michigan’s last remaining diner in Flint in 1987, built by the Jerry O’Mahony Dining Car Company. He purchased it for $2,000 and moved it to a lot on 14 Mile Road in Rockford and used it for his art studio. Despite a neon sign that read “No food, just art,” people still wandered in, hoping to sit down for a meal. Berta was out east, admiring a dining car, when the owner came out to talk to him. He discovered that Berta already owned one diner and asked if he’d like to own two. A minute later, Berta had purchased Rosie’s, which was built by Paramount Dining Car Company in 1946 and was originally called the Silver Dollar Diner. The restaurant was 700 miles from Rockford, however. After four days, 10 flat tires and one fire, the diner was in Rockford where it continues to be a landmark and has served well over a million meals. Berta’s work as an artist in neon may be related to his dining-car interest, but he is also known for his ceramic work, which is featured in the RCE classes. With both experienced and new artists in […]