The Forest Diner – Ellicott City, MD – Update

The Forest Diner closed on May 28th, 2012. Here’s a full post on its closing, with pics of its final days. To refresh your memory- here’s the way the diner looked a little less than a month ago. The old Silk City diner was entirely encased in a larger restaurant, with about four feet between the diner’s facade and that of the surrounding building.

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In these past couple weeks, the surrounding building has been razed, leaving nothing but the diner itself. Word on the street was conflicting- one person at the site saying that it had already been sold and was going to be moved to Virginia, the other that it had not been sold, but was moving to temporary storage off-site until plans can be made for it. Once I hear back from people who know for sure, I’ll post it on the blog. Either way, the diner is being saved, but removed from Rt. 40.

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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

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

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neon sign

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

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Inside

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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.

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Waitress Ellen Jackson in the diner.

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

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Soft stuff is also closing with the diner

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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
http://www.newspapersites.net/newspaper/howard-county-times.asp
http://ellicottcity.patch.com/articles/farewell-forest-diner
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1998-10-27/news/1998300064_1_forest-diner-parlette-forest-owner

Little Tavern- Washington No. 27

This former Little Tavern is located at the corner of 6th and Morse St., NE Washington, DC. It is now a Subway. Despite having lost its distinctive color scheme and signage, the exterior still looks as though it is fairly in tact. Washington #24 appears to have been built c.1948. It stands to reason that No. 27 dates from the late 1940s or early 1950s. I will try to find more documentation regarding the exact date of construction.

For pictures from 1988, taken while it was still operating as a Little Tavern, please click here.

For a in the process list of all Little Tavern locations, click here.

Prairie City Diners

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Queen’s Diner, the first unit by new diner manufacturer, Prairie City Diners, opened its doors in early December, 2008. Full Story on the Red Deer Advocate

Prairie City Diners

From the Prairie City Diners Website:
Here’s the first one of an exciting new chain of diner restaurants opening in Alberta, Canada. Made by ”Prairie City Diners“, this is a Shaw International and Medallion Structures joint venture. Each restaurant will have a different name, and this first one will be called ”Queen’s Diner“, named after the business park in which it is located. According to owners Scott Shaw of Shaw International and Jim Landin, of Medallion Structures, plans for the first 10 diners are already underway! Interest in this new product is high, so the sky is the limit! Built from the ground up, the diner itself has been patterned after the 1940-1950 silk city diners with round corners and roof lines.
Not all within this new chain will be diners. Some are bar cars and some ice-cream shops, but they are all in the diner style! What is so great about this new diner is that it is easy to move, they are built solid and can be moved anywhere. This first one shown below was moved from Medallion’s Shop 50 miles from Red Deer, using nothing more than a bed truck and trailer. Scott and Jim wanted to build a good product, and the result is that the diners have turned out better than they could have imagined! If you’re in the market for a ”real Diner” restaurant that is easy to move and is also turn key, look no further! They can even be sent to other countries around the world!

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A red model.

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Interiors:

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some more pictures are found here: BarsandBooths.com, who provided furniture, laminates, banding and accessories for the new diner
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I love that these are not the over the top caricature that so many manufacturers have been building in recent years. In concept and size, theses seem much truer to golden age diners. The design is clean and modern, but follows closely the lines of the classics. A late ’30s O’Mahony or a ’40s- early ’50s silk city is bought to mind.
It’s interesting to note that these are not being manufactured out New Jersey or Massachusetts, but out of Alberta, Canada, a province with no history of “real” diners.