Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Diner Dash

Go To
Diner Dash is a series of Time Management Game first developed by Gamelab and PlayFirst. The games stars Flo, a former stockbroker turned restaurant owner, who also serves as both the receptionist and waitress as she makes riches, builds more restaurants, and provides quality service along the way.

Originated as a PC game, and later ported to various consoles, Diner Dash is perhaps the Trope Codifier of the Time Management Game genre. Its popularity has led to a variety of sequels and spinoffs by other studios, with varying levels of success.

Diner Dash Adventures has its own page due to its numerous deviations from the previous entries.

Not to be confused with Dine and Dash, though there is an individual character who does that.

See also Plantasia for a similar game made by the same developers.

List of game titles:

    open/close all folders 

    Diner Dash Series 
  • Diner Dash (December 3, 2003)
    • Diner Dash: Sizzle & Serve (March 30, 2007; remake of Diner Dash released for Nintendo DS and Play Station Portable, using most graphics and gameplay mechanics of Restaurant Rescue)
  • Diner Dash 2: Restaurant Rescue (January 18, 2006)
  • Diner Dash 3: Flo On The Go (June 4, 2007)
  • Diner Dash 4: Hometown Hero (September 25, 2007)
    • Diner Dash: Seasonal Snack Pack (2008; expansion pack for Hometown Hero)
    • Diner Dash: Flo Through Time (2008; expansion pack for Hometown Hero)
  • Diner Dash 5: Boom! (March 16, 2010)
  • Diner Dash Classic (2012; reboot of the first game)
  • Diner Dash 2014
  • Diner Dash Adventures (June 19, 2019; originally titled Diner Dash Town)

    Cooking Dash Series 
  • Cooking Dash (August 12, 2009)
  • Cooking Dash: DinerTown Studios
  • Cooking Dash 3: Thrills and Spills
  • Cooking Dash 2016

    Other Spin-offs 
  • Avenue Flo (13 October, 2009)
    • Avenue Flo: Special Delivery (13 November, 2010)
  • DinerTown Detective Agency
  • DinerTown Tycoon
  • Dairy Dash
  • Diaper Dash
  • Doggie Dash
  • Fitness Dash
  • Garden Dash
  • Hotel Dash
    • Hotel Dash: Suite Success (November 22, 2009)
  • Parking Dash
  • Soap Opera Dash
  • Wedding Dash Series
  • SpongeBob Diner Dash (2006; crossover with SpongeBob SquarePants)
    • SpongeBob Diner Dash 2: Two Times the Trouble (2007)

This game series provides examples of:

  • Alliterative Name: Rosie Regular, Barb the Business Woman, Seymour Senior, Leo and Lulu (Loretta) the Lovers, Jo Jogger, Bernie Bookworm, Tina and Tyler the Teenagers, Maggie the Mom, Duncan the Dad, Kingston the Kid, Bobbi the Baby, Simon Star the Celebrity (soft C), Starla the Starlet, Trip and Tipper the Tourists, Greta the little Girl... The list goes on.
  • All Just a Dream: The ending to SpongeBob Diner Dash reveals the whole game was just a dream Mr. Krabs had.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The later games give Flo a closet to dress her in the clothes you unlock as you progress.
  • Art Evolution: Happened with a lot of the characters, mainly Flo, the Regulars, the Seniors, and the Businesswomen. The quality of the animation also gets substantially better over time.
  • Artistic License – Law: Customers can get fed up with waiting and leave at any time, this means they can eat a meal and then run off without paying for it. In the real world, this would count as theft. There is one customer in 2014 that deliberately tries to do this, though.
  • Ascended Extra: Some minor characters later got to star in their own games:
    • Rosie the Regular is the protagonist of Soap Opera Dash.
    • Garden Dash stars Barb the Businesswoman.
    • Bernie the Bookworm shines as Flo's detective partner in DinerTown Detective Agency.
    • Fitness Dash is run by Jo the Jogger.
  • Aside Glance: Every costumer in the Cooking Dash games (sans Cooking Dash 2016) has an idle animation (when seated) that involves this.
  • Badass Boast: Flo delivers one as the closing line of Restaurant Rescue:
    "Wherever there's a costumer trying to stiff a waiter, I'll be there. Wherever there's a dirty table to be cleared and no time to do it, I'll be there. Where there's an overworked waiter in need of a break, I'll be there."
  • Big Bad: Mr. Big is the main antagonist of Restaurant Rescue, Boom! and Adventures, being a Corrupt Corporate Executive who wants to demolish other restaurants (including Flo's) so he can repossess the assets.
  • Big Eater: Customers who order twice, such as Hal the Hungry Man, Gordon (from the 2014 reboot), and Minnie (from Diner Dash Adventures)
  • Bookworm: Bernie is always reading his book, even while eating, which is why he is a "Slow"-type customer and is extra sensitive to noise.
  • Character Customization:
    • The first Character Customization feature in the series is Sizzle & Serve, in which the player can choose full outfits for Flo that they get after completing each restaurant.
    • Flo On The Go and Hometown Hero have "Flo's Closet", wherein the player gets to change Flo's look in many more ways with separate clothes and accessories that they unlock over the course of the game.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Several characters/customers introduced in the series stop appearing in later installments. The Hot shot, for example, only appears in the first Diner Dash. Also, Kingston the Kid's family all but disappeared after the 2014 reboot, in which he is aged up into a college-aged young adult.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Tyler, Tina, and the Teenagers, once you see them open their eyes. A couple other customers may have this trope. Subverted for Tyler and Tina in DinerTown Detective Agency.
  • Decade Dissonance: Flo has gone through a lot of them, from Jungle Japes to Retro Future.
  • Depending on the Artist: Sometimes the Dinertoons could be drawn with a little more detail; other times more simple-looking. An example would be the Wedding Dash characters and how detailed and animated they look in the Wedding Dash games compared to DinerTown Tycoon and how simple they look to fit the Diner Dash style.
  • Dine and Dash: In addition to customers who are fed up with waiting for the cheque, this is the MO of one of Mr. Big's goons, Skip. He'll order time consuming dishes that take up space in the cooking line, then attempt to flee without paying, damaging the player's business. The only way to stop him is to tap him when it looks like he's about to flee, forcing him to pay, which can be difficult if you're busy with other customers and aren't paying attention to his visual cues.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: SpongeBob Diner Dash and its sequel Two Times the Trouble, a pair of spin-off games licensed by Nickelodeon that are themed around their SpongeBob SquarePants franchise.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first game has a lot of this.
    • The artstyle is cruder than in later games, with the characters noticeably lacking noses.
    • There's no option to choose which upgrades to apply; every upgrade is done automatically.
    • Plenty of the series' staple customer types, such as Bookworms, Joggers and Cellphone Addicts, don't appear here. The game also has two customer types not seen in the later installments: College Students and Hot Shots.
    • Many iconic characters in the series either don't appear here or weren't named yet, with Flo herself being the only named character (Cookie does appear, but he's a silhouette and wouldn't be named until Seasonal Snack Pack).
    • There's significantly less cutscenes than in later games, with only three: The intro, the cutscene before the final stage, and the ending.
    • The game was released for consoles and the Nintendo DS and PSP (with the latter two being subtitled Sizzle and Serve) in addition to PC. Later games (with the exception of Flo On The Go, which received a DS version) would only be released for PC until Classic, a reboot of the first game.
    • The final resturant has Flo transformed into a goddess with two extra arms, allowing her to carry four items at once. This form doesn't appear nor is it even acknowledged or mentioned in later games, and Flo simply has someone else be the extra set of hands.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Flo owns the diner in some of the games.
  • Excuse Plot: The earlier games doesn't really have any plot beyond the basic premise of having to serve customers in a restaurant (or any other eateries) for whatever reason.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Young Flo in Cooking Dash 3. Also, Tina and the Teenagers wear short braids.
  • Granola Girl: You know those Lovers that debuted in Flo on the Go and kiss at the table? Their names are Leo and Lulu. Lulu the Lover's a Granola Girl. Also, Harmony the Hippie.
  • Happily Married: Vicky Big and Tony the Pizza Chef. The plot of the Avenue Flo games is essentially their wedding and their baby shower.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Mr. Big started off as a guy with genuinely good intentions before meeting Flo and Grandma Florence in Cooking Dash 3, who helped him reach the top of the corporate ladder with the recovery of his then-failed amusement park project, which drove him to becoming greedy and ruthless. Then in Restaurant Rescue, he seeks to establish a large restaurant of his own by attempting to force several restaurant owners who are friends of Flo to give their properties to him; he eventually changes his mind after Flo prevents such thing and shows him that it's not necessary to take over other restaurants to begin his own. Ever since Boom!, he turned back to being evil and has remained like that, save for occasional Friendly Enemy moments with Flo if Avenue Flo series is any indication.
  • Hidden Object Game: The DinerTown Detective Agency spinoff falls into this.
  • Inexplicably Identical Individuals: A whole lot of them. Rosie and the Regular customer ladies, Seymour, Stella and the Seniors, Barb and the Businesswomen, Jo and the Joggers, Bernie and the Bookworms, Tyler, Tina and the Teenagers, and many more! It was even lampshaded twice in Avenue Flo. Like a lot of PC time management games, this is done so the players will know what type of customer to treat (i.e. get the most impatient customers to the tables fast). If every single one of the them were a Cast of Snowflakes, it would be too confusing for the player. They don't necessarily have the same name; Tina has a teenage relative named Gina.
    • And apparently Cassie Fisher from Pet Shop Hop in Soap Opera Dash is this trope.
    • In Wedding Dash, the groom of the 49th wedding works for a cloning lab, explaining why every guest is either Seth or Maricruz.
    • Wilson from Diaper Dash also mentions something about a cloning machine, which may account for some of this.
    • Strangely, there are also a lot of lookalikes in different time periods as shown in Diner Dash Flo Through Time.
  • Intelligence Equals Isolation: As he says in DinerTown Detective Agency, Bernie Bookworm didn't have many friends as a kid.
  • Interspecies Romance: Wendy the Cat and Rocky the Dog (from Doggie Dash) fall in love with each other at the start of the game.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In Boom!, after Mr. Big attracts a crowd of customers into Flo's Diner to make it inexplicably turn into rubble, the same ends up happening to his own company headquarters at the end. The method is even identical; removal of part of a sign to make it look like it's advertising a substantial product for free (with the only difference being that it was a technical accident rather than deliberate). Who says no to free money or free breakfast, after all?
  • MegaCorp: Big Corporation, naturally. Word of God says that prior to the first game, Flo was one of Big Corp's stockbrokers. Confirmed in Avenue Flo and DinerTown Detective Agency, when she mentions having worked at Big Corp as she navigates the cubicle maze.
  • Mission-Pack Sequel: Hometown Hero received three: Seasonal Snack Pack, Flo Through Time and Once Upon a Diner.
  • Motor Mouth: Colin and the Cell Phone guys, and possibly the Teenagers as well (but only when they're on their cell phones). Also Barb (sometimes named Martha) from Wedding Dash.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Shakes McGee only ever wants coffee. His journal in Adventures states that he drinks at least 17 cups of coffee a day.
  • Named in the Sequel: A lot of the customers received official names in later installments. The Young Lady became Rosie the Regular, the Businesswoman became Barb, and so forth.
  • No Full Name Given: Most of the named characters only have a given name or surname stated.
  • The Noseless: In the first game, all the characters (except the background chef in shadow that appears whenever food is being cooked, who was later given a proper identity as Cookie in Seasonal Snack Pack) were depicted without visible noses. They gained progressively prominent noses with the Art Evolution over the later installments.
  • Not the Intended Use: Fitness Dash features stretching mats, the spin-off's equivalent of benches in the main line games. Like benches, they're intended to be used to slow a customer's patience meter (even more so in Fitness Dash where customers on the mat will not lose patience). However, unlike the bench in the Diner Dash games, stretching mats can accumulate color bonuses, earning you points like matching customer's colors to the same colored exercising equipment. Because of this, there's nothing stopping you from placing a customer on a matching color mat, only to immediately relocate them to where they need to be. Using this strategy, you can accumulate enough points well over the expert score.
  • Official Couple: Many in the Diner Dash series — Quinn and Joe, Walter and Scarlet, Mr. Smith and Mrs. Smith, and Victoria and Tony, to name a few. Quinn and Joe looks more like a case of Will They or Won't They?, however. Leo and Lulu (known in the game as Lovebirds) is also an obvious example of such.
  • The One Guy: While the game is technically not part of the main series story-wise, the SpongeBob SquarePants version is notable for being the only game in the series that's not a spin-offnote  to have a male player characternote  instead of a female player characternote .
  • Overhead Interaction Indicator: Customers have a heart meter over their heads that gradually reduces the longer they have to wait to be served, making those with reduced hearts a priority to attend to.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Tony in Avenue Flo: Special Delivery, especially when a nine-months pregnant Vicky goes missing and she goes into labor after being stuck in the hotel elevator where her surprise baby shower was being held. Flo has to escort Tony and Vicky to the ambulance. Vicky delivers twins.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager:
    • While they're grown adults rather than teenagers, the Cellphone Addicts introduced in Restaurant Rescue are always on their phones, annoying most types of customers whose seating is adjacent to them.
    • The Teens in Hometown Hero, who come in Girl and Boy versions, are a more standard example. Seating the Girls and Boys next to each other will make them flirt and drop out their phones.
  • Prequel: Cooking Dash 3: Thrills and Spills is set in The '80s, when Flo is but a teenager, and Mr. Big has yet to own BigCorp.
  • Promoted to Playable:
    • In the final stage of Restaurant Rescue, Mr. Big joins as Flo's assistant waiter, providing the player two more item slots to use.
    • This also applies to Grandma Florence in Hometown Hero. Specifically her younger self.
  • Pun-Based Title: The series' title is a pun on "Dine and Dash".
  • Punny Name:
    • Flo, who has even used the pun of "goes with the Flo" in the first game. Some fans believe her name could also be short for "Florida" which, according to Avenue Flo, is where her first restaurant, Flo's Diner, is located. "Flo" could also be short for "Florence", of course.
    • Karma from Parking Dash works with cars.
    • Seymour Senior and the other seniors (See more seniors, get it?).
    • Colin Cellphone (Call in Cell Phone).
    • Tina Teenager. The first name sounds like the first or two syllable of what she is- a Teenager. Simon STAR the Celebrity.
    • Starla the Starlet (and her little baby, Sky).
    • Trip and Tipper the Tourists, Cookie the Chef, Bobbi Sewer in Dress Shop Hop works with clothes.
  • Rhyming Title:
    • The third Diner Dash game is subtitled "Flo on the Go".
    • The third Cooking Dash game is subtitled "Thrills and Spills".
  • Save the Villain: The plot of the final stage of Restaurant Rescue. After his plans to take over the restaurants from the previous stages got overriden by Flo helping their owners to make them stand strong, Mr. Big is left empty enough to consider retirement, only for Flo to come and offer him a different plan for his own restaurant.
  • Ship Tease: Flo and Bernie, particularly the grocery store and Movie Theater cases in DinerTown Detective Agency.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In Flo On The Go, part of the music for the Spaceship stage comes from the Mos Eisley Cantina music.
    • The final stage of Flo Through Time is named "Snack to the Future".
    • In Avenue Flo: Special Delivery, some of the models on the shelf with the baby monitors look like old-school Cylons.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Leo and Lulu and the Lovers, to the point where customers at other tables get grossed out when the couples smooch.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: In Soap Opera Dash, Simon the Celebrity is described as "a great actor... or so he thinks!"
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Flo was originally a stockbroker working for Mr. Big's corporation. After being bombarded by spreadsheets, she promptly bolts out. When she sees a run-down diner, she starts running her restaurant business.
  • Spear Counterpart: Colin the Cellphone addict is the male counterpart to Barb the Businesswoman, as both of them are fast yet impatient diners who tip well, and they both work for Mr. Big.
  • Suddenly Voiced: One of the selling points of Avenue Flo is the game including full voice acting for everyone for the first time, with Flo in particular being voiced by Brett Pels. This would be retained in its sequel, Special Delivery, and would be brought to the main series starting with Boom!.
  • Time Management Game: One of the classics of the genre.
  • Time Travel Episode: Hometown Hero has a couple of them.
    • The final stage of the base game involves Flo traveling back in time via a rollercoaster to the period when Grandma Florence's disco was open, and trying to make it an even bigger success to ensure it might alter the timeline and make the disco stay open in the present.
    • One of the game's expansion packs, Flo Through Time, is entirely themed around time travel, with each stage being set in a different time period.
  • Warm-Up Boss: Diner Dash 2014 has Gordon, who aside from eating more than regular customers is rather easy to deal with for a VIP.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • DinerTown characters Minerva Mink (Mr. Big's other daughter) from Pet Shop Hop and Coco seemed to fallen this trope. They haven't been seen since DinerTown Detective Agency.
    • Also a few plots from past games seems left unfinished. At the end of Wedding Dash Around the world, Mr. Bigger's Daughter wanted to marry for love, not for business and she fell in love with Joe, Quinn's love interest and Quinn's rival wanted to compete with her to make the best wedding....there has yet to be a conclusion for that.
  • Wedding Episode: Avenue Flo centers on Vicky Big's wedding to Tony the Pizza Chef with the gameplay based on Flo helping Quinn replacing everything after a series of mishaps threatens to derail the wedding. Turns out Vicky had a really bad case of cold feet and sabotaged everything. She apologizes for everything and marries Tony in the end.
  • World of Pun: Wendy the Cat and Rocky the Dog from Doggie Dash are full of puns about cats and dogs.


Video Example(s):


Flo's Inferno

Let's Player Takiten learns the hard way that this final Expert Level does NOT play around.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / BrutalBonusLevel

Media sources: