Tastee Diner closes, but dining car to stay

Fans of Silver Spring’s Tastee Diner were surprised by its abrupt closing on Wednesday, but it has a future despite the site being bought by a developer with plans for a new residential building.

D.C.-based Roadside Development purchased the site next to a former Capital One Bank branch which it also owns, and will redevelop the block as new construction retail and residential.

It will also incorporate the original dining car into the newly constructed building, although Roadside has not yet decided if it will be part of a working diner for a new owner, or just an architectural feature.

The original classic railroad car design was built in 1946 and sat at its original Silver Spring location on the corner of Wayne and Georgia avenues. Tastee Diner’s owner, Gene Wilkes, bought it in 1988.

In 2000, Wilkes relocated part of the dining cab to its current location. The majority of the current Tastee Diner location was built in 2000.

Wilkes approached Roadside Development about buying the property. Wilkes decided to sell the diner due to health problems.

“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.

Roadside gave no timeline for the project.

“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.

Roadside specializes in adaptive re-use projects. Past projects include City Market at O in Shaw, and the big City Ridge mixed-use development in Northwest D.C. which includes the former Fannie Mae headquarters.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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