White Tower Sign

I made the drive down from Maryland to Midlothian VA today to pick this up.

This neon sign was previously mounted on Richmond White Tower No. 1, which was located at 223 East Grace Street. It was originally built in 1939, and remodeled in 1960, which is probably when this sign was installed. The building is still there. It’s been de-towered, and painted, but it’s still recognizable.



Trolley Conversions- Maryland and Virginia

Some recent additions to my collection. These photos were taken in 1965. There used to be quite a few trolley conversions in the mid atlantic (and elsewhere), but they just didn’t hold up as well as factory built diners. By the time they came into service as diners, most had served a full lifetime of service on the roads, so the condition was obviously not as good as a factory built diner. It took work, money and some jerry-rigging to change them over from transportation to food service. But they could be picked up and converted on the cheap, so they were a good way to get into the business. It seems most owners traded up to a proper factory built diner, or to a on-site construction once they had earned enough money to do so, so the trolleys didn’t survive very well.





The Mighty Midget Kitchen

The Mighty Midget in 1980. It was built by a Glendale, California based firm post-war from a section of bomber fuselage. Apparently they built seven of them, and this is the only one to have survived.

From the 1940s through its closing, it cooked standard grill fare- burgers and hot dogs. It did a stint post-move and post-restoration as a Barbecue place, and now is part of a German Doner restaurant.

And 30 years later. It closed in 1994 and was moved to the current site in 1996. The stone gas station which is used to sit next to is now a pie shop.

Donut Dinette

Here’s a small southern chain, a few of the buildings are still around and recognizable, though most have by this point been torn down. I haven’t thought about these in two years, but was generously reminded this evening so I thought I’d put up these archival photos, taken by Michael G. Stewart , mostly in the 1970s and 1980s.

For more info on their history and for other locations, check out the Roadsidenut website, the incredible work of Debra Jane Seltzer.

The Falls Church, Virginia Location, operating as George’s Diner / George’s Deli

And more recently as Victor’s Grill

The Front Royal, VA location as the Do-Nut Diner

The Front Royal location c. 2003 as the Fox Diner (since torn down). I submitted photos of this one to Zippy the Pinhead the first time I was there. A few years later I returned and there was a local news story hanging on the wall with a very angry tone to the effect of “what is this strange comic strip and how did they find us- why won’t they leave us alone!” It was all very funny. The owners when it was the fox made it one of the best diners in the region (even if it isn’t a true diner). The owners from before it was torn down gave it all the atmosphere and charm of a McDonalds. They didn’t get what they had and didn’t seem to get the area or their customers.

And though I don’t have super old photos of this one, here is a shot of the Winchester, VA location, which, when the photo was taken, had the signage from the Donut Castle up, though it had been bought and was operating at the Seoul Garden Cafe. It is now the North Loudoun Diner.

Patent Art

Archival postcard of a Donut Dinette.

Little Tavern Locations past and present

In 1936, there were 14 locations operating in Washington DC.
By 1939, there were 21 in Washington.
By the 1940s, there were approximately 50 Little Tavern locations in Washington and Baltimore.
In 1988, 22 locations were still operating.
In 1991, the number was 20.
The last one closed last year.

This is what I’ve been able to piece together of locations which once existed.

If anyone has pictures especially from when they were still operating as Little Taverns, I’d love to see them. And if you’d just like to add a story or reminiscence, I’d love to hear it as well.

And if anyone has a location to add, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.

1. 814 E Street NW. – built c. 1928

2. 1344 G street northwest Washington DC

Torn Down, but the outline of the building is still visible on the wall of the building next door. Built 1931.

3. 2628 Connecticut avenue northwest Washington DC
Torn Down – Now the site of the Woodley Park-Zoo / Adams Morgan metro station Built before Feb. 1937

4. 1110 H St. Northwest Washington DC (Little Tavern Shop No. 16) Closed by 1985.
Torn Down Now the site of the Capitol City Brewing Company downtown location?

5. 3701 New Hampshire Ave. NW Washington DC
Torn Down. Now the site of the Sweet Mango Cafe.

6. 5100 Georgia Ave. NW Washington DC
Torn Down. Now a used car lot.

7. 1309 New York Avenue, N.E. Washington DC (Little Tavern Shop No. 8 )
Moved to 1251 New York Ave.

8. 1251 New York Avenue, N.E. Washington DC (Relocation of Little Tavern Shop No. 8 )
Torn Down. Now a school bus parking lot.

9. 628-632 North Capitol Street, N.W. Washington DC (Little Tavern Shop No. 6) Built 1931
Restored 1983. Demolished 1988.
Torn Down.

10. 2716 Good Hope Road S.E., Washington, D.C. (Little Tavern Shop No. 26)
Torn Down. Now a strip mall.

11. 718 H Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. (Little Tavern Shop No. 12)
Converted. Now Super Nails.
Built 8/29/1935. Permit # 183945. Architect G.B. Wenner. Estimated cost $7,500.

12. 3968 Minnesota Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. (Little Tavern Shop No. 23)
Torn Down. Now strip mall featuring “Rainbow” and “Downtown Locker Room”. Next door to former Senator Theatre, built 1942.

13. 2537 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. (Little Tavern Shop No. 24)
Converted. Now Continental Construction Next door to the former Highland Theatre.

14. 6th Street and Morse Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. (Little Tavern Shop No. 27)
Converted Now Subway.

15. 504 13th Street N.W., Washington, D.C.
Torn Down

16. 828 North Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia
Built of brick in 1940 (Building Permit #2542, 5/22/1940)
Resurfaced with porcelain enamel panels 1959 (Building Permit #15009, 5/27/1959).
1993- Friendly Tavern (BAR Case #93-8, 1/6/1993)
1994- Hogs on the Hill (BAR Case #94-104, 10/5/1994).
1995 – Jerry’s Subs (BAR Case #95-189, 12/20/95)
2005- Merry’s Subs Pizza (BAR Case #2005-00226, 10/19/2005)
2008- Asian Wok Cafe
Converted Now Chinese Restaurant. Photo taken during Little Tavern days.

17. Wisconsin Avenue and Cordell Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland (Built c.1939)
Converted. Now Golden House Chinese Food.

18. 135 Main Street, Annapolis, Maryland
Closed/Torn Down Nothing left at the site.

19. 11143 Viers Mill Road and Grandview Avenue, Wheaton, Maryland
Torn Down , Though sign-frame is still there, advertising Chuck Levin’s. Site Plan. Painting.

20. 6414 Holabird Ave Baltimore, MD 21224 Opened 1983. Closed 2008.
Closed. Picture.

21. 3515 Eastern Ave Baltimore, MD 21224
Closed. Picture.

22. Greenmount Ave, 32nd St. Baltimore, MD
Converted. As it appeared originally. Now Sea Blue. Formerly Kennedy Fried Chicken.

23. S. Conkling Street, Baltimore, MD – South of Eastern Ave
Torn Down. Picture.

24. 519 East 25th Street Baltimore MD
Converted. Now Pizza Deal.

25. Belvedere Ave. Baltimore, MD- East of Park Heights

26. 10 Park Ave Baltimore, MD
Converted – now Lighthouse Pub

27. 7413 Baltimore Ave College Park, MD 20740
Converted Photo – Until 2009- JD’s Roadhouse. 2010- closed

28. 8230 Georgia Ave Silver Spring, MD
Torn Down Read full story here and here.

29. Corner of Fenton St. and Wayne Ave. Silver Spring, MD
Torn Down Picture as Chinese Restaurant . Pictures as an operating Little Tavern.

30. 3333 M. Street NW Washington DC –
Converted Now Sweetgreen

31. 1303 Wisconsin Ave NW. Washington DC –
Converted Now Paolo’s

32. 655 Pennsylvania Ave. S.E. Washington, DC 20003
Converted Now Little Pub
Built 11/26/193(5 or 6) , architect Frank B. Proctor, Estimated Cost $5000, Permit no. 208645

33. 3125 Wilson Blvd Arlington, VA
Converted Now Goody’s

34. Rt. 1 Laurel, MD –
Converted Now Laurel Tavern Donuts Blog Post.

35. 7801 Coastal Hwy, Ocean City, Maryland
Gone/Converted (Seasonal)

36. 1221 U Street, NW – The Hamburger Grill
Gone. Storefront? Run by Little Tavern Shops. Referenced in 1933 “The Afro American” And here.lt

37.The Shops at National Place (Club LT- opened 1987)
529 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20004

38. Former Little Tavern? Now Tarbouch
3110 Lee Highway
Arlington, VA

Little Tavern Design

The first Washington DC Little Tavern, located at 814 E Street, NW, opened its doors in 1928. It appears the site is now the home of a twelve story apartment building and a Bank of Georgetown.

Early Little Taverns seem to have had a design similar to that of 1920s White Castles and White Towers.

By 1931, the Tudor Cottage Design had been adopted


In 1937, it was updated with a bit more of a moderne syle

Typical Plans and detail


A design from 1949

And a later, simplified design. What I’ve found on this one points to a date of construction in 1974
This one was found in Silver Spring, Maryland until relatively recently. When it was torn down, it had been painted yellow and was operating as a Chinese restaurant.

Big Guitar- Bristol, VA/TN

Bristol, the birthplace of country music, is home to great architecture, neon, and at least two giant guitars.

The Grand Guitar, an enormous Martin

The fret markers are windows, as is the sound hole. It looks like it could stand to be re-strung.




And in town, is another large guitar, set in the ground, as a chamber of commerce / welcome sign.