The College Park Little Tavern

The Little Tavern at 7413 Baltimore Ave College Park, MD, was built around 1940 (some sources say 1938, others 1941. Little Tavern Shops started their expansion into Maryland suburbs in the late 1930s), and is slated to come down very soon.

The College Park LT in the late 1940s, on the far left.
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In the 1970s. Little Tavern fed hungry Terps for more than half a century.
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After Little Tavern went out of business in the early 1990s (read about the life and death of the Little Tavern chain on some of the other posts on this blog), the building operated as a Toddle House, the Philadelphia Cheesecake Factory, Curry Express and JD’s Roadhouse Barbecue. It has been vacant nearly a decade.

As of 2011, the awning still showed signs of its stint in the early 1990s as a Toddle House. The Little Tavern’s architecture suited Toddle House, whose early buildings were a similar cottage style. Their buildings later grew- the current College Park Diner, down Rt. 1, was originally a 1960s Toddle House.
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The interior of the building suffered through the tenant changes of 1990s and 2000s, with the original tilework, custom built Monel backbar, stools and counters being replaced with whatever was cheapest from the hardware store.
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Now, with rapid development of the historic district of College Park, and ownership of the land by the University of Maryland, the historic structure will be demolished to make way for a “pocket park” with parking for food trucks.
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The Medport Diner – Medford, NJ

We had dinner at the Medport Diner. It’s a L-shaped DeRaffele- built diner, with a stainless steel A-frame style vestibule.
122 New Jersey 70 Medford, NJ. While it’s a big diner, its floor plan, with the L shape, and a row of booths between the counter and the row of booths at the window, keep it cozy. I feel that from the ’60s onward, as diners grew ever larger, they lost the intimacy of earlier ones which harbors interaction. Despite its capacity, this DeRaffele design manages to keep the local vibe of earlier models. The interior got a facelift early last year (photos), but it’s fairly complementary, and I much prefer it to the “retro” look so many are revamping their diners with.
The food was good and plentiful, and while the menu was extensive, enough of the options were variations on basic ingredients. Those typically NJ diner menus with 15 pages of everything-under-the-sun always overwhelm me and make me a bit nervous. I settled on the Texas burger, a cheeseburger with barbecue sauce, and a side of Disco Fries. From my years living in Canada, I became a bit of a poutine junkie, and having moved back to the US, I’ve been jonesing for my next fix. Disco fries are mozza and gravy on fries. They’re not curds, but the idea and flavor’s there. The cheese on the burger was particularly melty and the burger was juicy and flavorful. A great diner and a great way to round out the day.

The Medport Diner is located at:
122 New Jersey 70 Medford, NJ

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Elmer Diner – Elmer, NJ

Breakfast ended up being at the Elmer Diner, which I last visited about seven years ago. A diner on the site goes back to the 1920s. The ’50s incarnation has been turned perpendicular to the road, gutted and has been used for the past forty odd years as a dining room. The main diner is a 1970s model with bay windows. Since I was there last, an argyle pattern has been painted on the vestibule, and stainless has been added to the exterior of the dining room. I had the 2+2+2 special, 2 pancakes with cream chipped beef, bacon and sausage. Dad had scrambled eggs, bacon, homefries and toast. I don’t know if it has anything to do with the bacon memes and bacon craze of the past couple of years, but it seems that diners now include much more bacon than they did just a couple of years ago.

The Elmer Diner is located at:
41 Front St Elmer, NJ 08318

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Famous Restaurant – Texas Hot Wieners – York, PA

In this day and age of 20 page Greek mega-diner menus, a traditional hot dog restaurant like the Famous is refreshing. Yes, they’ll do you a hamburger, and they’ll cook you up a breakfast. But when a place advertises hot dogs on the sign out front, why would you order anything else?
And these don’t disappoint. Before dogs are cut down the middle about 3/4 through, and then cut about every inch. They’re opened up and grilled flat on the griddle. The bun is lightly toasted. A layer of mustard, of chili sauce, and a mound of chopped raw onions finish it off.
For such a simple dish, every hot dog place seems to put its own twist on the old standby. The Famous Restaurant’s chili sauce is a bit darker and sweeter than other Texas Hot Wiener places in the area.
The restaurant is a time warp. While it’s not my preferred decade, it’s always nice to see places so well preserved. Orange vinyl and wood grain formica set the tone. The grill is in the front window, as is typical with these storefront Texas Hot places, and the counter dominates the seating, as it should.

The Famous Restaurant is located at:
652 W Market St
York, PA 17401
(717) 848-2300

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Another entry in the Weiner/Wiener spelling debate.
The York, PA, Famous Restaurant spells it Wiener

The Texas Hot Weiner lunch in Hanover spells it Weiner
The Famous Lunch in Hanover spells it Wiener on their wall signage, and Weiner on their neon.
Curtis’ in Cumberland, MD spells it Weiner
Ernie’s in Gettysburg spells it Weiner

Raspberries Cafe and Creamery – Utica, New York

Raspberries was formerly known as the Hartford Queen Diner. Built by Paramount, the diner was originally owned by Gus Palas and Dino and Vince Chryssovergis, and opened in December of 1978 at a cost of $350,000.


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4784 Commercial Drive
New Hartford, NY

Clearview Diner – Mount Joy, PA

The Clearview started out life as a small, five bay 1948 Paramount. It was pretty standard for a Paramount built diner of the late 1940s, which is to say it was extraordinary- with a sensuously curved roofline and strong vertical elements. From the postcard, it’s hard to say what the exterior finish is, but I would guess probably vertically ribbed stainless. It had a great rooftop neon, which, in true 1940s form read “steaks, chops, hamburgers”. You don’t see nearly enough Steaks and Chops being advertised these days. For other ’40s Paramount built diners along similar lines, allow me to direct you to: “Rajun Cajun” of Hartford, CT, a six-bay model from 1950, to the Vale-Rio Diner, another 1948 model.

In 1954, the diner was remodeled and drastically enlarged, adding three bays to the left side and bumping a dining room back quite a ways. Business must have been good! In keeping with this modernization, curved glass supplanted glass brick on the corners. A new, clock topped vestibule was added, and a parapet was added to the curvy monitor roof to give the entire place a continuous, 1954 modern roof line. The emphasis of the design was changed to the horizontal. The diner was topped off with metal awnings and a new freestanding neon, though the steaks-chops rooftop piece remained for at least a little while longer.

Later on, the “Diner” name was dropped, replaced with “The Clearview Dining Room and Coffee Shop”. See Richard J.S. Gutman’s chapter on the move away from the “diner” name in the 1960s in his book “The American Diner Then and Now”. Despite the name and neon changes, the exterior looks to have remained in-tact, with the addition of Pennsylvania Dutch Hex Signs.

In what I’m guessing was the 1960s, the diner was enlarged and remodeled again, with a mid-century modern coffee shop-style vestibule put up along the entire length of the original 1948 section of the diner. Orange tile, floor to ceiling glass, modernist lettering.

Later on, the “Diner” was reintroduced into the name of the Clearview, probably coinciding with the cultural “re-discovery” of the diner in the 1990s. It changed names to the Tic-Tac diner in 2009, but that chapter in its life was short lived. By 2012, the diner had been stuccoed over, painted, and is now known as Babbo’s Italian Grill. A photo of the diner in its current state can be seen on the Diners of Pennsylvania facebook page.



As the Tic Tac Diner
Photo by Casey Kreider article

Little Taverns past

I went through some my dad’s slide archives and turned up a few more Little Tavern shots.

Little Tavern- Laurel, MD


The sign of this one has been rescued and restored.

Little Tavern- Silver Spring, MD

Little Tavern – Silver Spring, MD


Little Tavern- Route 1, Alexandria, VA

As it is now

Little Tavern – Georgetown, Washinton D.C.
that’s him on the right.


As it is now

Dinosaurland 1972-1973

I was sent these pictures of White Post Virginia’s Dinosaurland by reader Tommy Wilson. They were taken in 1972 or 1973.

“I grew up in northern virginia and my dad took me there when I was a kid (about 6 or 7 I recon) I had NO IDEA the place was still there!”