The sudden closure of Tastee Diner surprised the Silver Spring community on Wednesday after owner Gene Wilkes sold the restaurant to D.C.-based developer Roadside Development LLC.
According to Eater, Wilkes had been in talks with Roadside for the past year regarding the sale of the restaurant at 8601 Cameron St. in downtown Silver Spring.
“Due to personal medical reasons, I’ve decided to sell the property to Roadside. I have truly enjoyed getting to know their team, and I take comfort in knowing that the site will be in the hands of people who build spectacular projects, understand the community, and respect everything I have put into Tastee Diner,” Wilkes said in a press release. “I need to spend more time focusing on my personal life and could no longer operate in this location, but I am elated that the original dining car will be incorporated into the new design. I have full faith in Roadside, and I am confident they will find a creative way to incorporate or repurpose the original dining car.”
The sale closed on March 21 for an undisclosed price, according to Washington Business Journal.
Roadside purchased the adjacent Capital One Bank building last August for $2.7 million. These two parcels encompass more than three-quarters of an acre, where Roadside intends to build a multifamily-over-retail development, which will include the original 1946 dining car, approximately 800 square feet in size. This would be Roadside’s first project in Montgomery County, according to WBJ.
Currently, Roadside is still in the early stages of design and cannot provide an exact timeline or cost of the project.
Roadside also owns the 8700 Georgia Ave. building, the current home to Joe’s Record Paradise and the former home of SunTrust Bank.
“As a Silver Spring native myself, I have a deep appreciation for the history and culture of this vibrant community. It is a true privilege to be able to showcase Roadside’s passion for the community by incorporating Tastee Diner’s original dining car into the project,” said Roadside Development partner Jeff Edelstein. “It has been a pleasure to get to know Gene over the last year. He has entrusted us with this opportunity and Roadside is honored to be able to breathe new life into the block and continue to grow this dynamic part of Silver Spring’s ever-evolving downtown.”
The news of the sudden closure quickly spread through neighborhood listservs and social media platforms. Following our initial report of the closure on Wednesday morning, the chatter intensified.
Tastee Diner closed at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, as shocked customers waited outside, seeing a note on the front door that read, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you for so many years.”
One last coffee at the Tastee Diner pic.twitter.com/y5xCyjgYEE
— Evan Glass (@EvanMGlass) March 22, 2023
Tastee Diner opened in 1946 at the corner of Wayne Ave. and Georgia Ave. in downtown Silver Spring, according to The MoCo Show. The classic railroad car design was built on-site at the original location by the Jerry O’Mahoney Diner Company.
The Montgomery County Council designated the diner a historic landmark six years after Wilkes purchased it in 1988.
In June 2000, Wilkes relocated part of the dining cab to make way for the construction of the former Discovery Communications headquarters (now Inventa Towers).
Tastee Diner’s locations in Bethesda and Laurel remain open.
Photo: “Tastee Diner” by Swpb is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.
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