Hi Colorado Hirailer,
Hope you enjoyed your time in the Smokies -- such a beautiful part of America. Some late night googling confirmed your post today that it's Mel's Classic Diner at 119 Wears Valley Road, Pigeon Forge, TN.
To me it looks like it may have been built onsite and would be easy to model, except for the neon :-). The website says that it was built in 1993, which would explain why the classic book "American Diners: Then and Now" makes no mention of it nor any TN diners. (It was published in the same year.)
If you were heading due north, Sevierville looks like the next town over, and it is home to Mells (different spelling) Diner, now known as The Diner. This one looks like it was built by one of the newer diner building manufacturers. With the big boxy look, stainless steel X shapes, they've gotten completely away from the rail dining car proportions, not to mention the 50's automobile-friendly diners they seek to evoke. The Diner, Sevierville, TN Notice the heavier use of glass blocks seen in the cowcatcher and challenger posts. It's been taken to new extreames in the newer buildings.
It cracks me up when somebody with a video camera posting on You Tube goes on and on about the old "railroad car" that they're filming. Not!
Great trolley find:
In tracking down these two restaurants, I stumbled on Brown's Diner in Hillsboro Village, Nashville, TN. In 1929, Charlie Brown [yup] set up a mule-drawn trolley as a bar and restaurant at this location. He built a foundation around the wheels to avoid taxes, a common occurence in those days. So, the trolley wheels are still there. You can see the curved interior roof in one black and white shot on their website. And there are several exterior photos on the web. A news post about a prior fire says there are two cars but it's impossible to tell from photos/aerial views. John Bader, the painter mentioned in an earlier post about the Trolley Stop in Lowell, also painted this real trolley-turned-diner.
Thanks for sharing.
Tomlinson Run Railroad
P.S. - Forumites, do you have a Mel's Diner or Drive-in on your layout? Show us your pics. One food reviewer thought the popularity of the name was due to the TV show "Alice" set in Mel's Diner.