The Barrel

The Barrel Drive in was located on 301 north of Glen Burnie. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything else about the place on the internet- so if you have any information or memories- please drop me a line!

Noted neon preservationist Norman James was kind enough to send me a photo of “The Barrel” when it was still operational.

Village Sub Shop – Baltimore, MD

This is the first of a bunch of Maryland bar and restaurant matchbooks of mine. This is the Village sub shop, with their mascot, “subby”
Locations at:
6701 Belair Road, Overlea
5216 Belair Road, Gardenville
6401 Kenwood Ave, Kenwood
8801 Satyr Hill Road, Joppa
7707 Hartford Road, Parkville
819 Taylor Ave, Loch Raven
6719 Holabird Ave, Dundalk
2313 Cleanleigh Dr., Perring Parkway
5660 the Alameda, Alameda
8521 Liberty Road, Savoy Plaza
25 E. Padonia Rd, Padonia Village

The New Ideal Diner

This O’Mahony was replaced by the current massive 1950s stainless O’Mahony which currently stands in Aberdeen, Maryland. It, in turn, replaced an older diner, the Ideal Diner.


The Forest Diner – A Final Farewell

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.
Truly yours,
The Staff of the Forest Diner

Over the years, the Forest Diner has become entirely encased in later renovation, leaving the Silk City unrecognizable from the street.

neon sign

Inside, however, the original diner is in extremely good condition, having been protected from the elements for decades.


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.

Waitress Ellen Jackson in the diner.

Neon with the Enchanted Forest in the background. The Enchanted forest was supposedly the nation’s second theme park, opening just after Disney.

Soft stuff is also closing with the diner

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

The Spot Diner – Baltimore, Maryland

The Spot Diner was located at 220 N. Franklintown Road, Baltimore, MD, an industrial neighborhood just off Rt. 40.

While the matchbook graphic obviously exaggerates the diner’s size, it does appear to be a representation of the diner itself, and not just a stock image. It looks like the diner was sold in 1954 and changed its name to the Franklintown Diner. It was sold again in 1962.

The site is now home to Calmi Electric. The windows and proportions are right for a covered diner, as is the foundation and window/door deletes on the other side of the building. But the setup and size don’t look consistent with what’s on the match cover, even taking into account the exaggeration. So at the moment- it’s a big who knows. Further investigation is necessary.

Matchbook from the collection of Spencer Stewart


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.


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.


Diner Find: Peter’s Carry Out

You would never know to look at it from the street. For years I’ve been going to Potter’s and Weaver’s violin shop, which share a back parking lot with Peter’s. For years I’ve been going to the Tastee just a few blocks away, and I’ve stood under the awning of Peter’s to shield my camera from glare while taking pictures of the former Little Tavern located right across the street. But for whatever reason, I’ve never looked inside.

But sure enough, back in behind the facade of this little shopping strip lies a surprise. A long row of stools and a barrel roof. Whereas all the other buildings in this strip have basements, Peter’s does not. The barrel roof visible on the inside of the diner, is finished for exterior use on the top side, in a space which is now an attic, with the long ago addition of a flat roof, flush with the rest of the businesses on that street. Google satellite photos show a clear seam on either side of Peter’s. All that confirms that Peter’s was not built on site, but was something “other” from the fabric of the streetscape, brought in from somewhere else and set up.

Now let’s take a look at the building itself. Old newspaper articles talk about Maryland being a haven for streetcar-turned-diner conversions in the depression era. Most disappeared as soon as the owners were able to scrape together enough money to buy a proper factory built diner. Take the fomer State Diner in Baltimore, for example, which was a trolley diner until it was replaced with the current secondhand 1930s Silk City in the early 1950s (the Silk City was the original Laurel Diner- now the Tastee). Here’s another interesting Maryland trolley to diner conversion.
With a trolley conversion, like the White Diner or the Crossroads Dinor you would expect to find curved ends. While the original front wall of Peter’s has been punched out to allow more light from the storefront and more seating, it’s clear that the end walls (the one in back as well) are flat, but with curved corners, which makes me think it is far more likely that this was a factory built-purpose built diner.


The ends of the diner have a curve running perpendicular to that of the main barrel, similar to a Silk City roof, not like, say, a ’20s O’Mahony or Tierney. The roof has a distinctive profile- not a smooth curve, but one that has steeper slopes on the sides and a flatter roof. The closest thing I can think of with this particular roofline is a very early, narrow Silk City model. A surviving example would be the West Shore Diner. There is also an abandoned diner of this Silk City model in Montana (formerly Gordy’s) and the Miss Jersey City diner, now long gone.

Here is a picture of the interior of the West Shore for comparison. The Silk City is wider, but the similarities in the barrel roof are notable. Same profile, same curve at the ends. With all the years of modification and renovation at Peter’s, though, the definition of the barrel profile could have been somewhat lost, making real identification difficult. The shape, though, is undeniably that of a diner.

The backbar gives insight into its history, but not its origin. Custom-Bilt National Toddle House, Inc.

The patent numbers, from 1933 and 1934, correspond to the backbar equipment which was found in all Toddle House restaurants at the time. And sure enough, this building had a long stretch operating as a Toddle House.

Toddle House was yet another diner-concept early fast food place, similar in its early days to White Tower, Little Tavern, etc. Like Little Tavern, they used a very small tudor cottage style building. While Little Tavern had the counter oriented perpendicular to the front facade, Toddle House had theirs, diner style, parallel to the front. So for a restaurant which was just stools and a grill, it’s easy to understand why, and how they would take over a barrel roof diner like this. It also means that the first of many renovations, disguising the diner’s true origins, took place 75 years ago, when the diner itself was still relatively new.

And here are some news stories from the late 1950s, mentioning it as a Toddle House.




Peter’s Carry out has a website!
It’s located at 8017 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814

Beatlemania by the bag

Beatlemania meets Little Tavern Shops

February 15, 1965
Just for Laughs- Four Countermen at a sandwich shop put on Beatle Wigs yesterday. From left they are Charles LeBron, Efford Anderson, Robert Bonsall and Ronnie Barler.


Here’s a little context for you.

February 7: The Beatles arrive at Kennedy Airport in New York
February 9: The Beatles make their first appearance on CBS television’s “Ed Sullivan Show” in New York.
February 11: The Beatles make their first live concert appearance in the US at the Coliseum in Washington, DC., drawing an audience of 20,000 fans. February 12: The band gives two concert performances at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
February 13: 6.00pm This was The Beatles’ only visit to Baltimore. They performed two shows at the Civic Center, to a total of 28,000 fans. The support acts were The Bill Black Combo, The Exciters, Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry, and Jackie DeShannon.

Here’s John before the Show.