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)
4700 Wisconsin Ave (Now Osman and Joe’s) historic pic
Also still standing in the area are:
8017 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD (Now Peter’s Carryout)
9206 Baltimore Avenue College Park, MD (Now the College Park Diner)
14402 Baltimore Avenue, Laurel, MD (Now Einstein Bros. Bagels)
5713 Harford Rd., Baltimore, MD (Now Big Bad Wolf’s House of BBQ)