Read the tragic tale of this diner’s move to Washington DC and subsequent demolition. HERE
The official notification hanging in the diner:
Deal Loyal Forest Diner Patrons,
After 66 years of serving the finest food in Howard County, the Forest Diner will be opening our doors for the last time on Monday, May 28. We would like to thank everyone who has allowed us to become part of their lives over the years. It has been our pleasure to serve each and every one of you.
While the Diner will be closing, we have partnered with Jilly’s Bar and Grill, which is right across the street in the Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, to continue the tradition of fine food and service that you have come to expect from us. So what does that mean? Quite simply, this means the Forest Diner without the dining car.
Starting on may 29, Jilly’s will be open at 6am to serve you. You will be able to get the same food as the Forest Diner, prepared and served by the Forest Diner staff, for the same price. The management team at Jilly’s is looking forward to exceeding your expectations for breakfast and lunch.
As part of their commitment to you, we would like for you to write your name and contact information in the notebook located by the register. Jilly’s is in the process of making a Diner Loyalty Card, which will entitle our loyal customers to receive special deals at Jilly’s.
Once again, thank you for being part of our family over the years. And while we will miss the dining car, we do hope to see you at our new home at Jilly’s.
The Staff of the Forest Diner
The diner is Silk City 5076, meaning it was the 76th diner built by Silk City in 1950. It was originally known as Gearhart’s Diner and was opened by a Bob Gearhart. It was sold in 1957 to William Carl Childress and was renamed the Forest Diner. He operated it until his death in 1998.
I’m not sure where the 1946 date that the diner and the news stories have been using comes from. I suppose this could have been a replacement for an earlier diner, bought either new or secondhand. I need to do some digging.
Directly next door to the Forest Diner- a Kullman which opened in 1998 as the Princess diner and was bought out a bit later by the Double T diner chain. There was a lot of head scratching in ’98 as to why they would open a diner next to another diner, and speculation as to its effect on the Forest diner’s business.
More stories on the closing
Outriders Diner was built by Kullman in 1937. It was demolished in 1999.
It was located at 9855 Washington Blvd. (Rt. 1) and Whisky Bottom Road, in North Laurel. It was attached to a bar, similar to the setup just down the road at the Tastee Diner (formerly the Laurel Diner).
The setup of the diner is interesting, with the door at the end, by the glass brick corner. The door is flanked by a glass brick “delete” panel, keeping the window grid even. The fabric awning was replaced with a metal one sometime in the 1950s, and a vestibule was added, much more in keeping with the style (lack of style?) of the addition, than the diner.
Some shots from August of 2005, from the Club Diner, midway through it’s renovation. Take a look at what it looked like pre-renovation here. This early ’60s Kullman has (had?) a fantastic leaf-pattern vent hood. Space Age meets environmentalism.
El Sombrero Inc. is a 1952 Mountain View built diner with a 1961 Kullman dining room. It had been known as the Avon Grove Diner. By the 1990s, it had been mansard-ed, and since then, the stainless steel and the mansard roof have been covered with irregularly sized boards, painted in a vibrant red, white and yellow to harmonize more with its current usage as a tortilleria and carniceria. The overall lines of the exterior of the diner show through despite these modifications, and the stainless shows through a bit where some of the renovations have dropped off.
There’s nothing left of the interior of this ’30s Kullman turned upscale restaurant, and the Mansard roof dominates the facade, nevertheless, it’s a very rare diner with a mostly in-tact exterior and neon.
175 Katonah Ave nr Rt 35, Katonah 10536