Inside HipCityVeg: A Dreamy Modern Diner

Fall in love with this retro diner that boasts modern finishes, materials, and a color palette that brings diner design to the modern age.

By GR Chair

Reece Chairs with blue frame.

What do you get when you combine fast food flavors with vegan ingredients set inside a modern diner in Philly? HipCityVeg, of course!

HipCityVeg is a vegan fast casual chain located in and around the Philadelphia and DC area. What makes HipCityVeg so special—aside from their delicious plant-based take on fast food favorites—is  that their Ardmore location features one of our favorite renditions of diner design. It has all the ingredients of a retro diner but boasts modern finishes, materials, and a color palette that brings diner design to the modern age.

Row of Reece Chairs with blue bases.

With eight total locations, the Ardmore store differs in that it’s set in a Philadelphia suburb (the name says HipCityVeg, after all) and it has a retro flair. Design firm Groundswell Design Group and owner Nicole Marquis did so intentionally.

"The brand itself has a more modern feel, but we wanted to bring in some retro nods through specific architectural elements and styled merchandise," said Groundswell Design Group.

Diner design—complete with checkerboard motifs, bolt down vinyl stools, and neon lighting—is undoubtedly etched into the American psyche. It’s as American as apple pie, conjuring images of friends and families gathered to eat burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

Groundswell Design Group and Marquis seemingly played with that concept, taking those familiar design elements and updating them with finishes like white oak and vegan leather.  (It’s worth noting that HipCityVeg also serves burgers and milkshakes, but their burgers are made from smoked tempeh and milkshakes from soy ice cream and bananas.)

"Small little details became pivotal, like placing fixed counter seating at the front line that one would see within a diner, but adjusting the finishes of the stool and the adjacent lighting to feel like a modern take on the diner concept," - Groundswell Design Group.

More details like simple, square white subway tiles and a blend of wood tones on the tables, millwork, and modern restaurants chairs communicate the modern direction. A smattering of blues and greens on the chair backs and the penny tiles on the wraparound counter provide visual levity. And those oh-so-important fixed counter stools are finished in a glossy black powder coat and brown vegan leather.

Altogether, the palette screams contemporary Australian café, yet the architectural features, layout, and furniture specs nod to a dining experience of yesteryear. It’s a thoughtfully cool reinterpretation for a new type of food, lifestyle, and culture that exists today. The result is a space that feels both familiar and fresh.