As far as diners within a reasonable drive go, the Tastee in Laurel is my favorite. Great food, served fast in a nicely designed diner by a rare maker, Comac. The Tastee sits on an island of land between US 1 North and US 1 South, with entrances to the parking lot from both sides. It sits with the old train station to its right, and the old Little Tavern to its left. The kitchen, a small dining room, and the T.D. Lounge are all housed in the original brick addition.
This Tastee Diner was built by Comac in 1951, and replaced an earlier monitor roof diner at the location. The manufacturer is rare as they were only in business for four years or so. Their tag is found above the door. It opened as the Laurel Diner, but was bought by the local diner chain, Tastee Diner, which once had locations in Fairfax, Va, Rockville, MD, Bethesda, MD and Silver Spring, MD, as well as sponsoring an award winning duckpin bowling team after WWII. The Fairfax location is now known by its original name, the 29 diner, the Rockville location is long gone, but the Silver Spring and Bethesda ones are still going strong.
The two original neon signs still stand on either end of the diner, a silhouetted chef perpetually beckoning hungry travelers. The sign’s original neon reading “Laurel” is long since replaced with “Tastee”. The sign also originally read “Air Conditioned / Steaks-Chops / Cocktails / Patron Parking”. By the 1980s, “chops” had been replaced by “pizza”, and a sign for the adjacent motel had been added. Those have been gone for years, though.
The outside of the diner has changed very little in all the years since it was installed, with the exception of the usual wear and tear. Inside is also in good condition, with some changes made over the years, but nothing, with the exception of televisions, which detracts terribly. They are now smoke-free, which is nice.
The “New” Laurel Diner- Restaurant and Liquor Store – “Before and after the races, as always your best bet.. is the Laurel Diner
The Laurel Diner showing the neon
Later postcard from the Laurel Diner
Copyright Michael G. Stewart
Old slide of the diner. Copyright Michael G. Stewart
an early ’80s view of the . Copyright Michael G. Stewart
Comac Inc. Builders of Better Diners – Irvington, NJ
Inside the diner. Note the newer stools and tile floor over the original terrazzo. Booths are presumably original old-syle dark wood.
Me in the diner yesterday. The double cheeseburger was gooey and delicious on a perfectly toasted bun, with a side of homemade mashed potatoes. The refills on the crushed ice filled cokes came before I could finish even half of the previous one. The name of the diner says it all.