In love with diners

August 06, 1993

Americans have a long-abiding love of diners. That explains why savvy restaurateurs are re-discovering the simple cuisine and sleek aluminum look of the old-time diners. Some of these gustatory dinosaurs are making a comeback even as creative imitators are launching new-age diners.

The Baltimore area soon will be welcoming two new diners. Later this summer, the Korologos brothers, who have made such a huge success of the Double T Diner in Catonsville, will open a second venture in Pasadena. And then early next year, Frank's Diner intends to open in Jessup.

Nostalgia buffs who have fond memories of the diners of the 1950s -- or wish to learn what it was like -- should get a kick out of Frank's. This 65-by-16-foot diner will be the real McCoy: straight from southern New Jersey.

For 10 years, the Olympia Diner sat vacant along U.S. 40 on the favorite route from Baltimore to Atlantic City, N.J. The Olympia is in Carney's Point, a few miles east of the Delaware Memorial Bridge. The diner never lost its bright, shiny exterior look; the interior remained in tip-top shape. But it never re-opened, even though casino-bound traffic picked up considerably.

The Olympia proved ideal for Franklin Davis of Severn, who was seeking a usable diner. It will be moved to Jessup (U.S. 1 and Cedar Avenue) later this year, with an opening early in 1994. There will also be a new section added so seating totals 128. Mr. Davis, who is the night baker at Kimbrough Army Community Hospital at Fort Meade with wide experience in food service, will be chef.

Diners are popping up all over. Look at Ralphie's in Timonium and the Silver Diner in Towson Town Center, which we would term "nouveau diners" with extended menus. Traditional diners are thriving, too, such as the Bel-Loc at Loch Raven Boulevard and Joppa Road, Tony's in Essex, Augie's in Brooklyn, Jim's of Holabird and the Andros on Belair Road.

Americans want simple, basic meals. And families are cost-conscious today: the diner's blue-plate specials have tremendous appeal. As for the nostaglia lovers, the diners offer even more. Some even have juke boxes.

Frank's Diner has a good location, near industrial businesses and not far from population centers in Howard and Anne Arundel counties. But the restaurant business is tough to break into. Opening up a vintage diner may give Mr. Davis a leg up on the

competition.

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