Toddle House

So begins the next research project.

Toddle House was founded in 1932 by Fred Smith. Check out the brief history overview on Wikipedia. It’ll give you a general idea of the rise and fall. Watch this site for increasingly in-depth coverage of their history as I find it.

Here’s the first fun fact: Toddle Houses (the earlier ones, at least) were pre-fab and delivered to the site. They had ten stools and a stainless backbar. A diner concept to the core. But whereas diners of the time were doing the streamlined monitor-roof look, Toddle House opted for cottage style architecture and a brick facade. Think of them as an early environmental diner.

Below is from a 1938 article published in “The Knickerbocker News”:
“The “Toddle-House” is unique in the fact it is not classified as a permanent improvement, and yet presents an attractive piece of property.
Built of steel framework, the Toddle House is immediately transportable, unlike the diner-type restaurant. Each Toddle House is a self contained unit combining all needs, whether heating or air conditioning. Only a water and gas or electric hook up is required”
Diner fans, sound familiar?

In 1954, a Washington DC directory lists Toddle Houses at
1021 19th Ave NW
5314 Georgia Ave NW (Still standing)
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4700 Wisconsin Ave (Now Osman and Joe’s) historic pic
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Also still standing in the area are:
8017 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD (Now Peter’s Carryout)
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9206 Baltimore Avenue College Park, MD (Now the College Park Diner)Photobucket
14402 Baltimore Avenue, Laurel, MD (Now Einstein Bros. Bagels)
5713 Harford Rd., Baltimore, MD (Now Big Bad Wolf’s House of BBQ)
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In the early 1990s, they bought two former Little Taverns, but those locations were short lived
7413 Baltimore Ave College Park, MD
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8100 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda MD
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2 thoughts on “Toddle House

  1. The Toddle House was founded by my step-father Jacob Stedman in Houston, Tx. He moved to Memphis in the 30’s and was joined by Fred Smith Sr., who had the monetary resources to expand the operations. They made a national chain of Toddle Houses but both died in the 50’s. Without a creditable succession of management, my father, an MD in Memphis and with the remaining board members at the time, arranged a sale of the chain to the Dobbs family and their Dobbs House franchises. They later sold the combo to beechnut corp in Chicago which later sold to Squibb which later sold to Bristol Myers. Toddle House had good but simple food and great pies: black bottom, chocolate and pecan. We have one of the original structures in our back yard which was also the home of Stedman. My mother, his step-daughter still lives here.

  2. Our Dad was B. Henry (Hank) Howell, he was with Dobbs & Toddle House as a south Florida Regional Management Team, as a child I remember when Beechnut Enterprises began changing things. Shame they did not stay with the already winning formula. My eldest brother Bernie and I spent our off school hours and summers working . My job was cleaning 4 booth tables, stocking the condiments and counter. Polishing the stainless steel and taking orders. My brother took the orders, cooked and made sure the kitchen was spotless, cleaning the grill with grillstone and a drop of oil. The food was inventoried and rotated for freshness and the dehydrated hashbrown potatoes and homemade beef barley soups. He showed me how to weigh the meats and portion the plates and meals. He taught me to flip eggs by practicing on a old hamburger bun. It is all in the wrist…that little flip.
    Waffles and pouched eggs, french toast and Humpty Dumpty omelets. It is a great way to learn responsibility. Feeding the public, your clean hygiene, uniform, hair,teeth,nails all in order to the shoes. I started working at the age of ten by cleaning and loading the dishwasher and putting away the clean plates, flatware and glasses.
    So I am glad your Step Father Mr. Stedman and Mr. Fred Smith Jr gave families like ours a place to earn money and learn so much. I wish we had the recipe to my favorite black bottom pie, I remember the layers graham cracker crust,dark chocolate filling,butter rum layer,milk chocolate layer, whipped cream layer with shaved dark chocolate slivers. I grew up at the commissaries on Biscayne in Miami, and Federal Hwy. Dania Florida. I worked at several locations. Where ever we were short staffed. Back them we just thought everyone knew how to work. Surprise, Surprise.

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