flagship Silver Diner reopens at new location

When the Silver Diner opened its flagship location at 11806 Rockville Pike (Rockville, MD) in 1989, it not only marked the beginning of this new venture between restaurateur Robert Giaimo and  master chef Ype Von Hengst but also the rebirth of an old concept…. a chain of Diners.

Silver Diner, 11806 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD
March 1993 photo by Larry Cultrera

Diner chains had existed sporadically over the years, some examples being the Monarch Diners in Massachusetts and New Hampshire started by the DeCola brothers of Waltham (circa 1940 thru 1970)and more recently the chain of Dempsey’s Diners in Pennsylvania (roughly 1960 thru 1990).

The first Silver Diner was the only outlet of the chain that was built in a factory. A collaboration between diner manufacturer  Kullman Industries, award winning restaurant designer Charles Morris Mount, diner historian Richard J. S. Gutman (as design development consultant), Mike Collier of Uniwest Construction and Cini-Little International, Inc. (food service consultants), this diner brought back and updated the classic look of gleaming stainless steel, porcelain enamel and neon, a trend that caught on universally throughout the diner industry.

Nowadays, the Silver Diner has 16 locations in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. Check out their website at …… http://www.silverdiner.com/. Last year on the occasion of their 20th anniversary Silver Diner announced their plans to relocate their Rockville headquarters to a brand new on-site built diner at 12276 Rockville Pike. As of November 2, 2010, they closed the old location and opened the new one.

rendering of the new Silver Diner at 12276 Rockville Pike
courtesy of Silver Diner

Good friend Michael G. Stewart had a quick meal last week at the new diner and reported that the place is very clean and the food was good but service seemed a little slow which could be attributed to the staff getting used to the new layout. Check out Michael’s website at… http://www.michephoto.com/

An interesting sidelight to this story happened around last weeks opening of the new diner. You see I belong to the Silver Diner fan page on Facebook and a few weeks ago they announced a contest where they asked people to share their favorite personal story of the Rockville Silver Diner. They would draw a winner once a week until the November 2nd opening. The winners would receive a Tabletop Juke Box replica.

Masthead on Silver Diners facebook page (Rockville memories tab)

I myself visited the diner twice over the years, once in 1990 and also another time in March of 1993. I decided to share an experience I had during my second visit. Here is what I wrote…….

The last time I was there was either 1992 or 93. I was buying a new t-shirt to replace my first one from 1990. I wanted to get a decent photo of the diner that was not blocked by parked cars so I got up on top of a newspaper dispenser box on the sidewalk next to a light pole to get the shot. A lady customer had just come out of the diner and saw me taking my photo, her car was right there and she went into the glovebox and took out a camera and took a photo of me taking my photo of the diner.

Here is the photo I shot of the Silver Diner from the top of a newspaper dispenser box.
(I believe the lady who took my photo is in the blue mini-van)

Well it was coming up to November 2nd and I thought they did not pick my story as a winner, boy was I wrong! On Wednesday, the 3rd I saw on Facebook that I won the last drawing for the contest! I was surprised!

They contacted me and wanted to make arrangements for me to pick up my prize. I realized this might present a problem as I live in the Boston, Massachusetts area and let them know about this. They asked if I knew someone in their area that might be able to pick the prize up for me as they would not ship it.  

I immediately thought of Michael G. Stewart and contacted him. I gave him the lowdown on my predicament and he said he would do me the favor and pick up my prize. 

The Juke Box replica arrived at my place of employment on Wednesday in good shape and I want to thank Michael Stewart for shipping it, and also Iffat Khan of the Silver Diner and Katie Conlon of the Silver Diner Facebook page for being so helpful and gracious. 

Iffat Khan informed me that the other winners had their photo taken when they picked up their prizes and asked me to send along one of myself with my prize.


Me with the Juke Box replica, photo by Denise Cultrera

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