Philip DeRaffele, Beloved New Rochelle Figure and Family Man Who Transformed American Diner Design, Dead at 93

Written By: Robert Cox

NEW ROCHELLE, NY — If you have ever eaten at a roadside diner along the East Coast of the United States, odds are you were in a DeRaffele diner — or an homage to the classic DeRaffele diner design.

Philip was the man who single-handedly revolutionized the manufacturing, design, and installation of Diners.

Over the years, his customers were mostly from the northeast, but also spanned as far south as Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. His one regret was not fulfilling his dream to bring a DeRaffele diner to Italy.

He was born and raised in New Rochelle. His work ethic was legendary. He was at his factory every day at 5:30 a.m. until he passed last week.

He saved his best work for his hometown, the New Rochelle Diner near Exit 15 of the New England Thruway.

Phil graduated from Albert Leonard High School, where he was voted Class President in his senior year. He loved most sports and was the self-proclaimed best catcher in Westchester County.

While in high school, Phil worked with his father, Angelo, who taught him the meaning of “perfection” in the construction of diners. Philip designed his first diner at age seventeen, working for his father.

After graduating from Delahanty School of Architectural Design located in Manhattan, he tried to convince his father that people were tired of the same small structures that kept coming out of their shop. The subsequent design of the Peter Pan diner, manufactured and delivered to Long Island in the 1950s and later moved to the Wilmington, DE area.

The Peter Pan diner transformed the look of diners. The exterior had wings, a bigger canopy and novel window shapes.

Phil is an outstanding citizen of New Rochelle who has been active in such benefits as Youth Tackle, Little League Baseball, Boys and Girls Club, Rosary Hill, Lions Club, Holy Name and St. Joseph’s Churches, and Meal-on-Wheels of New Rochelle.

Phil was predeceased by his parents; Angelo & Mary DeRaffele, his wives; Josephine and Margaret. Sister; Rafael (Ray) Cacciatore; and brother, Salvatore DeRaffele.

Survived by Siblings Angela Anderson (Maynard), Joan DiBuono (Bobby), John DeRaffele and Angelo DeRaffele (Anne), and (Mary Jane).

Children, Philip DeRaffele and Donna, Stephen DeRaffele and Mary Beth, Gail DeRaffele Cerreta and Bobby and Joseph DeRaffele and Sandy.

Grandchildren; Philip DeRaffele and Sue, Keith DeRaffele and Maria, Bert Terranova and Melissa, Stephen DeRaffele and Brittany, Mitchell DeRaffele, Kevin DeRaffele and Allie, Kelsey DeRaffele & Patrick, Brandon DeRaffele, Margaret DeRaffele, Skye DeRaffele, Stephen DeRaffele, Jr. and Reese DeRaffele.

Great Grandchildren; Madi, Adrianna, Gaby, Ali, Nicky, Juliet, Seraphina, Philip, Hyland & Amelia and many nephews, nieces and close friends.

A memorial is scheduled for Saturday, September 11th 2021 11 a.m. at 2525 Palmer Ave. New Rochelle, NY.

The expected turnout is so large that no church in New Rochelle could accommodate the funeral. Drivers are advised to avoid the area around ShopRite and Stop & Shop between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. due to the expected traffic.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the following:

  • Holy Name of Jesus of New Rochelle
  • Meals on Wheels of New Rochelle
  • St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital


The DeRaffele Manufacturing Company