Buy ‘Em By The Bag

Little Tavern’s slogan used to be “Buy ‘Em By The Bag”.
I did, and I brought them back to the studio for some product shots. Mug is ’50s vintage.

The burgers came from the Laurel Tavern, formerly the Laurel location of the Little Tavern. They tracked down the original burger recipe and are still selling them, along with some really good fresh donuts. If you miss Little Tavern, take the trip, you won’t be disappointed. The building has lost its paneling, its neon and its interior, but they still deliver in the food department.

Laurel Tavern Donuts
115 Washington Boulevard Laurel, MD 20707

The Laurel Diner – Laurel, MD

The Laurel Diner opened c.1934. It originally operated in an early Silk City, with an unusual end-door setup. C. 1951/1952, this Silk City was moved to Baltimore to replace an old converted trolley diner. The Silk City was replaced with a brand new Comac Diner.

Like Outrider’s Diner, just down the road, the Laurel Diner was part diner, part bar. It looks like the Laurel also had an off-licence, as it advertised itself as a liquor store as well. It also owned a small two story brick motel, adjoining the diner.

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The diner acquired metal awnings in the 1980s. By that point, the neon “Chops” had been Changed to “Pizza”, and signage for the motel had been added. Also take note of the name change. It is still doing business as part of the local “Tastee Diner” chain. The large double signs have recently been repainted, but over the years, have lost all the sub-signage. Note the Little Tavern in the background of the night-shot.

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Outrider’s Diner – Laurel, MD

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.

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Related pages: 01, 02

Laurel Diner updates

It looks like the Laurel diner (now the Tastee) goes back quite a ways. I’ve found newspaper records of it going back to 1934, when three men an a woman tried to kidnap one of the waiters. The Laurel diner has also had a liquor license going back as far as September of 1939.

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I’m fairly confident this is a drawing of the actual diner and not just period clip art. Assuming that’s the case, can anyone make an id or at least a guess as to manufacturer, if it dates from a 1934 or a bit before?

1934
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1939
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Laurel Diner

I found another matchbook view of the Laurel Diner, which I believe shows an older diner which the current Comac replaced. If you have any wild guesses as to builder or date of the diner from the matchbook, please throw them out there.

Frustratingly, it’s just a drawing on the matchbook, but it seems too specific to be stock art, and I haven’t seen the design on any other matchbooks, so I’m going to assume it’s at least fairly representative of what was there.

Note the doors at both ends. The rooftop sign advertises it as both a diner and a bar.
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Matchbook design is mostly the same, but diner is different and it’s billed as the “New” Laurel diner
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Postcards showing the early 1950s Comac which later became part of the Tastee Diner Chain. I wish I could find an actual photograph to confirm the earlier diner.
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Diner Slides- 1976-1988

Some more from the archives, in no particular order.

Short Stop Diner, now Irene’s pupusas. Wheaton, MD
It’s a 1956 Kullman. The neon was nearly as big as the diner itself, but has since disappeared.

Then:
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Now:
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Diner- Front Royal, VA
It’s a 1956 Mountain View. Front Royal used to be a hotbed of diners. It had this one, Nick’s Good Food diner, the Do-nut dinette, and another ’50s stainless model. The other three have been knocked down, and this one’s now a used car dealer.

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Now:

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Frost Diner- Warrenton, VA
The Frost is a 1955 O’Mahony.

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Inside
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Counter
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A sign of the times- Disco Fashion T-shirts
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Pork Chop- $1.25, Fried Chicken $1.75
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Tastee Diner- Silver Spring, MD

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Tastee Diner- Laurel, MD
a rare Comac brand diner

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Bud’s Broiler – New Orleans, LA
Bud’s Broiler
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Allen Theater
Current Photos
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Flower Theater
Current Photos
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Summit Diner– Somerset, PA
Summit Diner
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Moody’s Diner- Waldoboro, ME
Moody’s Diner
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Diner- MA
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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
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now
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The sign of this one has been rescued and restored.

Little Tavern- Silver Spring, MD
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Little Tavern – Silver Spring, MD
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Little Tavern- Route 1, Alexandria, VA
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As it is now

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

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As it is now

Tastee Diner, Laurel, Maryland

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.

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The “New” Laurel Diner- Restaurant and Liquor Store – “Before and after the races, as always your best bet.. is the Laurel Diner

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The Laurel Diner showing the neon

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Later postcard from the Laurel Diner

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Copyright Michael G. Stewart
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Old slide of the diner. Copyright Michael G. Stewart

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an early ’80s view of the . Copyright Michael G. Stewart

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The sign c 2007

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The Tastee Diner c 2006

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Comac Inc. Builders of Better Diners – Irvington, NJ
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Inside the diner. Note the newer stools and tile floor over the original terrazzo. Booths are presumably original old-syle dark wood.

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2007
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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.

Laurel Little Tavern

Here’s the current status of the Laurel Little Tavern, Now the Laurel Tavern, post remodel.

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January 2006

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March 2007

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August 2008

To see some older photos of this one, look at the Diner Hotline, a wonderful blog, and a wonderful resource.

According to wikipedia,

Little Tavern(Laurel Md.)was closed by Little Tavern Shops LLC.(Parent Co.)All Use of Licensing Agreement and Trade Marks canceled for said Property at said time. Little Tavern Shops has nothing to do with present on site operation and the (new on site operation)is not licensed to operate as Little Tavern Shops or use any of Little Tavern Shops Logo’s, Sayings, or Trade Marks. As of April 30.2008, the last little Tavern Shop was closed, with all othes being closed over the past two years as leases expired, under a long term plan for a New Little Tavern Store Operation, to fit within Fast Food Market Resturant Operation of today. Little Tavern Shops is now moving ahead with It’s New Operation’s and the planned Licensing of, Free Satnding and Shoppiong Center Stotr Loction in, Md-Del-Pa-Va-Area’s. But Still Maintaining It’s old time Qualtiy of “Style and Food Service” For Futher Information please contact Little Tavern Shops LLC. C/O (Marketing) Jecco Co. Inc. 410-661-4394 Fax 410-661-4394 The Hereof statement has been prepared, approved and authorized by James E. Cumbest Jr. T/A Little Tavern Shops LLC. Carroillton Bank Building 1740 E. Joppa Rd. Balto. 21234

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The original is gone. The beautiful original neon signage, the last remaining is gone. The backbar with the green mirrored panels, built as per Harry F. Duncan’s original 1933 Patent, D89950, is gone. The stools, the tile, everything that made it the original is gone. The rest, closed, their buildings converted or torn down. We lost the Silver Spring Little Tavern, the one with the yellow roof, just a few months ago.

I am saddened by the passing of the original, the real Little Tavern. May she rest in peace.