In March of 1953, a dream was realized for a hard-working couple, Leroy and Annie (Beans) Smith, when they built a small hamburger and hot dog stand on Old Bethlehem Pike. Shortly thereafter the Smiths transformed the place into a diner.
The Roy Ann Diner was established when Leroy Smith was 50 years old. He was born in Hilltown Township in 1903. After he married and while raising a family of two boys, Edward and David John, he was a teacher in the one-room schoolhouse where the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church on Hilltown Pike now stands. He also worked in the Prothonotary’s Office in Doylestown, but he always dreamed about owning a restaurant.
He finally decided to follow his dream and go into the restaurant business with Butch Ruth at the R&S Diner in Hatfield, located where Peruzzi Toyota now stands. After being there for only a few years, He decided that he wanted his own place. So Leroy and Annie bought some land on Old Bethlehem Pike outside of Sellersville and set up the hot-dog stand. At this time there was no Route 309 Bypass and everybody, like truckers, who traveled between Allentown and Philadelphia, came past here. Annie and Leroy took in only $30 that first day and always said they were pretty happy with that
The matriarch of the family, and the cook at the diner, Annie (Beans) Smith, was born and raised in Souderton in 1906. The first items on the menu were Annie’s own and many menu items from the beginning remain on the menu today. The deviled crab cakes, and her famous rice pudding, as well as the soups are her recipes. We still to this day use the same recipe and methods that Annie did years ago.
By 1957, Leroy and Annie decided to enlarge the diner and added onto the kitchen and added a dining room. It remained that way, with few renovations, until 1995 when the place received a facelift and an addition onto the dining room. Our first dining room had 18 tables and seated about 60 to 70 people. We also had the diner part that had a counter with 14 stools and six booths before it was renovated. The facility now seats 100 people in the renovated and expanded dining room, plus boasts 14 counter seats and 12 booths.
The Smith’s son, Edward, came into the business in 1954 when he was 26 years old. When the elder Smith died in 1960 at the young age of 57, Edward Smith became a partner with his mother and ran the business with her until his death in 1972 at the very young age of 44 and that is when Ann, Edwards wife, and Annie became partners. After 20 years of partnership with her daughter-in-law, Annie Smith passed away in 1992, she was 86. At this point in time Jon, Annie’s grandson became partners with his mother Ann.
Since Ann’s retirement in 2002, her grandson Matthew, has taken over daily operations with his father Jon. Ann still comes in to do the billing every week and crack the whip at the young age of 81.
The Roy-Ann Diner has had four-generations of Smith employees since its modest beginnings in 1953.