News & Reviews Product Reviews Menards Rocket Diner review

Menards Rocket Diner review

By Bob Keller | September 27, 2022

The hottest O scale eatery in town is smokin’ and has great scenery

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Menards Rocket Diner is a great place for your O scale folks to eat. After all, it doesn’t take much arm-twisting for a train enthusiast to stop and chow down at a railroad-themed or trackside restaurant.

Menards Rocket Diner review
Menards O gauge Rocket Diner is great looking, as is its landscaping. Bright and colorful, one of the stacks produces water-vapor “smoke.”

I’ve dined at two eateries in the Seattle area that used old passenger cars for service. In Cincinnati there was a New York Central diner converted into an ice cream parlor (later returned to rail excursion service), and here in southeastern Wisconsin an old Milwaukee Road depot is a restaurant and Canadian Pacific trains provide the entertainment.

Opening the box containing the Rocket Diner took me back to great eating and fast trains of days gone by. Part of the structure is a Menards F-unit locomotive body superbly decorated in Rock Island passenger scheme colors, hence “The Rocket” name.

Menards Rocket Diner

The headlight and number boards light up. The latter are marked “Rocket,” and on the fireman’s side of the cab a sign illuminates the letters D-I-N-E-R in sequence and then the entire word “DINER.”

Someone with a green thumb must have designed this! I was darned impressed with the decoration of the base. There is the expected grass element, but there are 22 bushes that wrap around the engineer’s side of the “engine,” curve around the nose, and stop at the patio and parking slot.

Flower boxes envelop the patio. They are gaily decorated with bright summer flowers. Concrete steps approach the patio and they seem to have work spots in the middle – suggesting a lot of happy customers have passed this way.

Serving doors and windows are at the rear of the building. They are beneath a round awning wrapping around the end of the building. A waiter is standing by. There are several seated customers. Chairs and tables, each table with a small menu, are placed in an “L” shape.

Side view of Menards O gauge Rocket Diner.
The scenery is well done on this structure; plenty of flowers adorn the dining patio; there are customers at the tables, and a die-cast Dodge truck in the lot.

I thought the wood tones of the deck looked quite good. The colors were not uniform – but seemed to vary, as lumber might change from exposure to the elements on your own patio. Jack the German Shepherd rests at the patio steps, trying to sniff out a snack!

A surprise inside

The beautiful scene has a bit of a surprise. There is a cap on the locomotive roof. Pull it out and just add water (DO NOT USE SMOKE FLUID). When the accessory is powered up, you get water vapor that poses as kitchen exhaust! How cool is that?

The Rocket Diner is a clever idea and has one of the most visually appealing scenery packages I’ve seen. This would look great in your downtown, but I’d clear a spot along your mainline – your 1:48 scale railfans will thank you for it!

The 279-8322 Rocket Diner ($111.24) by Menards. Visit Menards/ As with all Menards structures, this is designed for use with the Menard’s 4.5-volt power supply sold separately (Menards SKU nos. 279-4061/4361, 4062/4362, or 4050). Power is connected through the back of the building, or by a drop-down pigtail plug from below the building.

One thought on “Menards Rocket Diner review

  1. If you’re ever in Fullerton, CA, stop in at the “Old Spaghetti Factory”. It’s in the original Fullerton train station, at 110 East Santa Fe Ave, right next to the current Amtrak/Metrolink Fullerton station. The building has been very well preserved, given that it’s now a restaurant. A lot of the interior is just like it was back when it was the Fullerton train station – and the exterior sure is.

    And hey – the food is pretty darned good as well. My wife and I ate there often when we lived in Anaheim.

    And no, I was NOT paid for this rather blatantly obvious plug.

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