Juancarlo Parkhurst, owner of Lina’s Diner and Bar, with some of his crew members in the restaurant’s kitchen. Photo by Mike Diegel.
Silver Spring’s newest restaurant, Lina’s Diner and Bar, will officially open Tuesday, May 30.
“We opened up last Thursday, so this entire run, Thursday through Saturday is what we consider our soft open,” said Juancarlo Parkhurst. “We’ll be closed for the Monday holiday and then we’ll start Tuesday with lunch, dinner as well as happy hour.”
Parkhurst started cooking in college about 20 years ago to pay the bills, he said. He also cooked during a brief stint in law school, which he said he hated. He switched to the front of the house, working in various restaurants in New York City and South Beach, then went back to cooking, eventually moving back to New York City. He’s been living in the Silver Spring area for about 12 years.
“My most recent stint was as a general manager opening up RPM Italian,” he said, an upscale Italian restaurant in Mount Vernon.
The inspiration for Lina’s comes from his childhood experience going to a diner in New York City in the Meatpacking District that he said, “just blew my mind, it was such a cool place. You were seated next to transvestites, prostitutes, business people. It was open 24 hours a day. It was really kind of what I guess New York was in the 80s and 90s.”
What always intrigued him about that restaurant, he said, was that it was a diner but with a strong French influence. By going to other places in the city over the years, the bistro idea just got ingrained in him, Parkhurst said
He’d started looking at the location (8402 Georgia Ave.) and talking to the landlord eight years ago before actually jumping out on his own with Lina’s. He spent about two and half months renovating the space to get ready for the opening.
The diner is named after his daughter, 10-year-old Carolina. The outdoor patio is named Sam’s Garden after his son (which also explains why the section of the menu listing burgers and such is labeled “Samwiches”).
“It’s a very small, kind of recognizable comfort food menu,” he said about the offerings. “Obviously, we have strong classics.”
Those dishes include steak frites, a double cheeseburger, an omelette in the French style (“a little loose on the inside”), pork belly poutine, grilled bratwurst, and a Croque Monsieur or Madame among other items. The restaurant will also start offering daily specials, including a fish of the day.
The clientele during the soft open “has been a really interesting mix,” he said. “I’ve had young families, I’ve had young professionals, I’ve had kind of all walks of life over the last week and a half. It’s kind of what I wanted to go for—very much going back to that experience I had as a child.
“You can’t be everything to everyone,” Parkhurst continued, “but I hope it’s a comfortable space for a lot of people.”
Lunch at Lina’s will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and then reopen at 5 for dinner. Monday through Thursday, the kitchen will be open until 10 p.m. and the bar open until 11, and open one hour later for each on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant does not accept cash, only credit and debit cards.
(Editor’s note: Lina’s Diner and Bar’s website will go live next week.)
One of the pieces off artwork on the walls is a caricature by a local artist of Parkhurst’s daughter Carolina, for whom the diner is named. Photo by Mike Diegel.