August 06, 1993

Just as we finished celebrating the opening later this summer of a brand-new diner in Pasadena (Ritchie Highway and Mountain Road) more good news arrived: Early next year there will be a new-old diner opening up in nearby Jessup (U.S. 1 at Cedar Avenue). Taking the family out to one of these old-fashioned eateries is becoming the "in" thing to do.

Frank's Diner is coming to town. Nostalgia buffs will love the place, especially if they fondly remember the heydays of diners during the 1950s -- or wish to learn what they were like. This 65-by-16-foot diner is the real McCoy: straight from New Jersey.

For more than a decade, the vacant Olympia Diner sat forlornly along the Baltimore-Atlantic City route, just to the east of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It never lost its bright, shiny exterior look; the interior remained in tip-top shape, too. But it never re-opened, even as traffic on U.S. 40 at Carney's Point, N.J., grew along with the popularity of the Atlantic City casinos.

When chef Franklin Davis of Severn went hunting for a usable diner, the Olympia was the perfect choice. It will be moved to Jessup later this year, with an opening planned for early in 1994. There will also be a new section added on, bringing the total

seating to 128. Mr. Davis, now the night baker at Kimbrough Army Community Hospital at Fort Meade with a lifetime of work in the food service industry, will man the kitchen.

Diner cuisine is the rage. Nouveau diners are popping up all over. Look at Ralphie's in Timonium and the Silver Diner in Laurel and Towson. Traditional diners are thriving, too, such as the Double T on Baltimore National Pike (expanding soon to the previously mentioned location in Pasadena) and Augie's Diner in Brooklyn. Americans, especially in Central Maryland, seem eager for the kind of simple, basic meals that they used to devour in their youth -- and the low prices of such blue-plate specials. They also are in love with remembrance of the good old days. Diners offer that in abundance.

Will Frank's Diner succeed in Jessup? We hope so. It has a good location, near industrial businesses and population centers in Anne Arundel and Howard counties. But the restaurant business is tough to break into. Opening a vintage diner may give Mr. Davis a leg up on the competition.

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