First named Woody’s Diner after original owner Woody Sturgis, the factory-built “Silk City” diner car was brought to Selbyville from Paterson, New Jersey in 1950. A label mounted inside the diner car lists its serial number as “5092” – “50” denotes the year in which it was fabricated and “92” signifies that it was the 92nd Silk City car built that year. The diner quickly became a welcome stop for those traveling along U.S. Route 113, as well as a gathering place for local residents and various community groups. Most notably, meetings held at the diner by members of the poultry industry in 1951 led to the establishment of the Eastern Shore Poultry Growers Exchange, a broiler chicken auction which operated from 1952-1969. Hosted in Selbyville and broadcast on three area radio stations, the Exchange played an integral role in the transformation of the Delmarva poultry industry. During this time, the diner featured a bank of telephones along its back wall where poultry auction bids could be placed. The Sturgis family owned the property until 1983, when it was purchased by the Doyle family. An exterior roof was constructed over the diner car, and a larger dining room addition expanded the property. The historical integrity of the diner car’s interior remains largely intact, with only the vinyl on the booths having been changed. It stands as the oldest operating and best-preserved Silk City diner car in the state.DELAWARE PUBLIC ARCHIVES – 2015 – SC-247
Woody’s Diner and the Eastern Shore Poultry Growers Exchange
In early 1952, poultry men on the Delmarva Peninsula had a problem. Too many of them were either not being paid fairly for their chickens—or sometimes they didn’t get paid at all. Growers, feed suppliers and buyers would gather at Woody’s Diner on the DuPont Highway in Selbyville to commiserate and talk business.
One grower, I. B. Hudson, had lived in Texas for a while and had seen how they auctioned onions there. He suggested the group establish a poultry auction that would give the local poultry businessmen more control over the industry, and hold outside buyers more accountable.
Out of those “diner” discussions was “hatched” the Eastern Shore Poultry Growers Exchange (ESPGE)—and the Poultry Auction—which began in mid-June of that year, operating out of a building just north of Woody’s on the DuPont Highway. On their first day, the ESPGE auctioned 350,000 birds, followed by second day sales of 325,000. This led the group to decide to operate the auction five days a week.
Enormously successful, the Exchange furthered the growth of Delmarva’s poultry industry and operated until 1969.
“Silk City Diner 5092”
The dining car that is now part of our restaurant is an important historic landmark for the town of Selbyville and all of Delaware. The diner is one of about 1500 diners manufactured between 1926 and 1966 by the Paterson Vehicle Company, located in Paterson, New Jersey. These structures, which were originally built as dining cars, were called “Silk City Diners” because Paterson was known as the “silk city” because of the many weaving mills that once produced silk there.
Each Silk City Diner has a unique number, which denotes its production number and the year it was manufactured. Our diner’s number is “5092”, which means it was the 92nd diner produced in the year 1950. The plaque with this number is located above the sliding door entrance located in the middle of the diner.
Originally called Woody’s Diner, the building was brought here in 1950 by Woody Sturgis, and quickly became a popular eatery frequented by local residents and travelers. In 1983, our family purchased the diner, renamed it Doyle’s Restaurant, and added the addition on the north side of the building. Recognizing the importance of this piece of local history, we’ve chosen to keep the diner as “original” as possible, and made only a few changes to its 1950’s décor. We invite you to step back in time and enjoy a meal in the historic atmosphere of one of Delaware’s treasured landmarks.
030116 Coffee Tribute 1
Woody Sturgis, owner Woody's Diner 1
Woody's Diner Exterior from left on highway
Woody's Diner Exterior from right side
Woody's Diner Garfield the diswasher 1953
Woody's Diner Interior, colored
Woody's Diner Lester the Chef 1953
Woody's Diner Menu Back
Woody's Diner Menu Inside-2
Woody's Diner Menu Inside
Woody's Diner Menu
Woody, Margaret, Jim Sturgis 1945
Woodys Diner Postcard 1
delmarvanow marker 1
delmarvanow marker 17
delmarvanow marker 2