A Real Historic Diner Coming to DC!

by Prince Of Petworth May 19, 2009 at 10:07 pm 36 Comments


This is one of the freshest things I’ve heard in a while. From an email from one of the owners:

“My partner and I are moving an historic 1940’s diner from New York to Washington, DC tomorrow. We bought a Silk City Diner, manufactured by Paterson Vehicle Company in 1947, that has been in upstate New York ever since it was put into service.

The nation’s capital currently has no true diners that I’m aware of; that is, historic modular diner buildings manufactured during 1930-60. So, we’re bringing one to DC by moving it from New York.

It will arrive sometime tomorrow. Unfortunately, I cannot give a specific time of arrival yet due to the nature of highway transportation of oversized loads.

The diner will be located in the Trinidad neighborhood of DC, at the site of a former used car lot shut down by Mayor Fenty in November 2008 (1050 Bladensburg Rd NE). It will be located across the street from Jimmy Valentine’s and 2 blocks or so from the H street bars/restaurants. The initial hours (once we open) will be from 6am-10pm (we think), but we’ll be open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday evenings.”

Pretty sweet, yeah? More photos after the jump.




  • Wow! Totally cool!

  • Wow, indeed!

  • LNic


  • Anonymous

    where in upstate did it come from?

  • RD

    Trinidad…one stop shopping for a greasy breakfast and a bag of weed!

  • eric in ledroit

    dc does have a historic diner, the tastee diner up in silver spring…

  • Anonymous

    @eric in ledroit: sure, but Maryland isn’t DC. I can’t think of any real, historic diners left in the city. THIS IS AWESOME!

  • This is on a main thoroughfare with plenty of traffic, but the place will really come to it’s own at 3am on a Saturday morning. This would be a perfect stop on the way back into town from an evening’s debauchery in Baltimore. And the local drunks and mental cases will definitely keep this place hipster-free! For the time being at least. Definitely will be patronizing this place, but I sure hope they know what they’re doing. It’s a LONG walk from H Street when the sun goes down.

  • Reformed Somali Pirate

    Ahoy !

    Yes, but it’s worth noting that the Tastee Diner was just North of Petworth at Georgia and Wayne Avenues from 1946 to 1999

    -and very well built to last by the Jerry O’Mahoney Diner Company.

    The greasy spoon was carefully moved a few blocks away to Cameron Street ten years ago where it still operates today.


    There’s another Tastee Diner in Bethesda, mates.

    Reformed Somali Pirate Tantum Eruditi Sunt Liberi

  • Jim

    i wish someone would move one to Kennedy Street…maybe the location where the current CVS is closing.

  • Problem is, if they put a diner in where they’re closing the CVS, CVS would want to buy the diner so they could open another CVS, which would then close.

  • Angry Parakeet

    A CVS closing?! I thought they never closed, just kept spreading thier clone-spores.

    Monkey is right about that location – that’s quite a happnin’ area, especially at night. Does anyone remember Jimmy McPhail’s House of Shards that was nearby? This is an area so difficult to tame that the McDonalds closed, despite tons of traffic. When I looked at their address on an aerial view, I was surprised how far is is from H, that is a stretch.

    I, too, wish them the best of luck.

  • Nate

    PoP, can you get some pictures as it is being moved here?

  • Nita

    Sweet yes, but I wish it would move into that empty grassy lot on the east side of Georgia, between Quincy and Randolph, next to the liquor store. Probably too small an area… but we need something there! Even just add a bench and a gate and make it a dog park!

  • Dog walker

    Awesome, greasy spooning and then a sweet walk in the Arboretum

  • M

    American City Diner is in DC on Connecticut and Morrison in Chevy Chase. They even show movies every night at 8:30pm on their deck.

  • Victoriam

    Don’t worry about the location – Along with the vintage diner, I hear they’ll also shipping in some vintage Somalian “Technicals” to provide shuttle service.

  • saf

    M – AC is a diner, but it isn’t a classic pre-built. It was built on site in the 1980s.

  • Mike B.

    As a born and bred New Jerseyan, let me just say that a “true” diner isn’t necessarily a certain kind of structure. For me a diner is the kind of place that’s hearty, not fancy (no real diner I know would would ever have “haricots verts” on their menu *cough* “The Diner” *cough*).

    Placemats with local ads.

    Menus longer than some Russian novels.

    Specials with soup or salad, two vegetables, beverage and dessert — none of them good for you in the slightest, but tasty and filling and closer to $10 than $20.

    The real good ones do their baking on-site too, though that might be too much to ask for in DC.

    Oh, and they’re open 24 hours.

    For me, the Florida Ave. Grill comes closest to a real diner in DC. The Parkway in Silver Spring is also in the running, but only because this is DC and not the East Coast. (DC is the South, y’all!)

  • Anonymous

    But it’s so small, I can see it getting packed already.

  • Asian Al

    Yo Mike B. — I think what you are weakly tring to suggest is that we are not the North — I don’t think it takes too much intelligence to discern that we are East Coast — though, in my opinion, DC is more West Coast than South despite geography.

  • @anon – That’s the whole point of a diner: small staff, six booths, counter service. Low overhead, fast service, get them fed and on their way. There’s no time for lingering or screwing up orders because the orders are simple. The bigger the operation, the larger the menu, the greater the chance for screwups. Therein lies the appeal of the diner: simple, unpretentious comfort food served promptly and inexpensively.

    But it looks like they’ve already run into their first roadblock: DCRA says the foundation isn’t approved and putting a diner down would be illegal.

    Welcome to DC.

  • hilltop

    across from jimmy valentines? last time i crossed that treacherous intersection at H and bladensburg rd late night we had to duck and cover due to a lengthy blast of automatic gunfire. im all for a diner like this, great idea, glad to see someone doing it. but 24hrs on weekends on bladensburg rd? anybody ever go the steak and egg place next to dc9 late night? im guessing similar but more dangerous.

  • Twitter drama!!!!! from @dcra.

    @hb123 Much more to story. We want diner as much as anyone. But it needs to be done right. No inspections and concrete was just poured.

    Not exactly @capcitydiner. We ‘re trying to work with you and help walk you through this. You need to do it right though.
    2 minutes ago from web

  • MandarinZazz

    Wow, DCRA is on twitter. this is the first cool thing i have seen on twitter, they are moving quick too.

    looks like DCRA is on it’s way back to check out the foundation.

  • Cap City gets zero response, no return phonecalls, and conflicting guidance from DCRA, yet they’re the ones who “need to do it right.” WTF?

  • Nichole

    … and now they’re getting a parking ticket.


    (Also, I Twitter.)

  • saf

    DCRA sucks. And while I’m at it, zoning sucks too, as does DDOT.

    All the permitting agencies go out of their way to make it impossible to get permits, impossible to understand why you’re not getting permits, and then to slap you down hard when you get the wrong permit or miss a permit.

    They all suck.

  • Nichole

    While my previous comment awaits moderation, I will repost with less vulgarity (and fewer typos!):

    … and now they’re getting a parking ticket.


    (Also, I love Twitter.)

  • JohnnyReb

    Asian Al; you must not have spent a whole lot of time here: DC being more West Coast than Southern?! That is the strangest non sequitur I’ve heard in describing the District’s character. We are definitely East Coast, and surely Southern. Sometimes, if one doesn’t get out of their transient enclaves in the city, one may not notice our old-South ways…

  • Asian Al

    It was a joke…

  • There is no curse, in Elvish, Entish or the tongues of man for this treachery. My business is with DCRA tonight. With rock and stone.

  • Anonymous

    southern efficiency, northern charm

  • mark

    hey y’all, owner of jimmy valentine’s here. this diner is directly between the one-block distance from my house in trinidad to my bar on bladensburg rd. i know matt & patrick well and have watched the course of their project firsthand. i’ve also been watching them try to drop the diner in place all day (it’s approved to go in now). they have bent over backwards to meet DCRA code throughout this process, they have built everything correctly, and have had met with unnecessary ‘frustration’, shall we say most gently, at every turn. the silly difficulty of today’s process has been financially wasteful, and isn’t it remarkable that an attempt to bring a positive business to a blighted neighborhood can attract such negative attention from authorities in a place that can’t otherwise seem to get any?

    that being said, i’ve been a home-owner here for nearly 6 years and have never once encountered any problems with my neighbors and people on the street here (jimmy valentine’s has zero police reports to its address in nearly 2 years since opening). simple truth is that where there’s no prey, there are no predators, and i call bullsh*t on whoever commented on “[ducking automatic gunfire]” last time they were in our ‘hood. nobody shot at you “hilltop”, especially next to CVS as you claim (“h and bladensburg”). corner drug dealers trump muggers; dealers won’t allow that kind of crime because of the police attention it draws. of course, now that more businesses are moving here we’ll soon attract the kind of criminals that plague dupont, georgetown, adams morgan, u st., and increasingly on h st…

    commentary & rant aside, the diner itself is a bona fide ’47. it’s deceptively small, it’s way cool, and it actually fits the street/landscape here like it’s been here all along (though honestly it’s currently more like a mirage looking off my back deck after years of nothing but shady used car dealers). matt & patrick are hard-working and honest people pursuing their vision completely out of their own pocket and i’m confident they’ll get the food and menu right. the intense problem-solving you witnessed today is just the tip of the iceburg and they’ve got no safety net in this venture. few people have that kind of fortitude.

    best of luck boys, i never thought the day would come when a 20-bag would no longer be the first commodity available walking out my front or back door : )

    mark @ jimmy valentine’s lonely hearts club

  • Anonymous

    The florida ave grill is totally a historic diner. It’s been there since the ’50’s!

  • Reformed Somali Pirate

    Ahoy !

    These well built prefabricated restaurants are a genuine slice of Americana from the first half of the last century.

    Today’s arrival (nothing easy) all the way from Avoca in up state New York of this authentic prefabricated diner to be known as Capital City Diner is great and should be celebrated here in Washington.

    Matt Ashburn and Patrick Carl should be given the keys to the city for what they’re doing.

    Instead our local government stands in the way of progress and is once again giving a hard time to people who are improving our city with courage and their own time and private resources.

    The Tastee Diner is our only remaining genuine prefabricated diner in the Washington area which is why I wrote about it in detail earlier today.

    That’s all, mates.


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