Taking place in a 1950s-style train car diner, the player takes the role of a waitress who has to serve five hungry customers — Haji, Babs, Boris, Pépé, and Buck. As each person calls out an order, hit the drop targets for their dish and their sides, then collect the Grill bonus before it gets cold. Serve all five customers and you can collect the Dine-Time Jackpot, an award based on the game's backbox clock. For more tips, make successive shots to the cash register, Beat the Rush, then spell D-I-N-E-R for a chance to Stir the Cup for a pipin' hot couple'a millions.
Although Diner was only a modest success for Williams, it remains a popular game for players who enjoy its lighthearted theme, varied shots, and humorously appropriate sound effects and music. A digital version was once available for The Pinball Arcade before the license to all WMS tables expired on July 1, 2018.
The Diner pinball demonstrates the following tropes:
- American Accents/Americans Are Cowboys: Buck speaks with a Texan drawl and wears a big white Stetson hat.Buck: "I'll have the Texas chili and fries!"
- Amusing Injuries: Shooting the grill when it is not lit makes a noise of someone burning himself on a hot griddle and then screaming.
- Anti-Frustration Features: Unlike Taxi, you don't have to serve all the customers with one ball.
- Captain Ersatz: Babs and Boris are obvious caricatures of Margaret Thatcher and Boris Yeltsin, respectively. It's also believed Haji is based on Bill Gates, and Pépé was modeled after Pancho Villa.
- Do Well, but Not Perfect: It is arguably better to avoid taking the Stir the Cup shot after D-I-N-E-R is spelled. If the shot is taken, the whole word needs to be re-spelled to light the lock, rather than just the "R".
- Five-Token Band: Done literally with the customers — a stereotypical Indian (Haji), a stereotypical Britian (Babs), a stereotypical Russian (Boris), a stereotypical Hispanic (Pépé), and a stereotypical American cowboy (Buck).
- Gratuitous Spanish: If you take too long to serve Pépé, he responds, "¡Ándale! ¡Ándale!"
- Greasy Spoon
- I Am Very British: Babs, of course.Babs: "I shall have the iced tea and the frankfurter."
- Just a Stupid Accent: The customers' accents.
- Leitmotif: A little nationalistic tune plays when you complete a customer's order.
- Signature Style: As with other pinball games by Mark Ritchie, Diner includes criss-crossing ramps, numerous timed shots, and escalating rules.
- Skill Shot: Time the launch so the ball lands in the upper-right saucer to claim the reward on the moving jukebox light.Singers: Number one!
- Spelling Bonus: C-U-P raises the bonus multiplier and lights the inlanes, while D-I-N-E-R enables Stirring the Cup.
- Spinning Clock Hands: The Dine-Time clock, which advances an hour when certain switches are hit. Serving all five customers and collecting the Dine-Time bonus rewards one million points for each hour.
- Spiritual Successor: To Ritchie's earlier work, Taxi.
- The Smurfette Principle: Babs is the only female customer.
- Welcome to Corneria: This can be an annoyance if the player takes too long to fill the orders.
- You No Take Candle: Boris talks like this.Boris: "Hey! Get lead out!"