The iconic Tastee Diner in Silver Spring, Maryland, abruptly closed Wednesday, with shocked customers lining up outside, seeing a note on the front door that only said, “Thank you for the opportunity of letting us serve you for so many years.”
There was initially no specific reason given as to why the restaurant closed.
The company “Roadside Development” later announced that it had purchased the property as part of a mixed-use residential project in the area.
“We were just shocked,” said Andrea Loney, who has been going to the diner for decades. “It’s been here forever, and we were surprised because it’s a local institution.”
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Employees could be seen walking around Wednesday afternoon, appearing to be distraught.
They said they were given no notice and were as surprised as everyone else.
“I looked it up and I thought there’s no way,” said Cara Fitzwater, a frequent customer. “We call it our second kitchen.”
The diner’s owner, Gene Wilkes, said in a statement that he sold the property due to “personal medical reasons.”
“I need to spend more time focusing on my personal life and could no longer operate in this location,” Wilkes said.
Tastee Diner opened in Silver Spring in 1935 and was declared a historic landmark in 1994 by the Montgomery County Council.
It received national attention in 2000 when Wilkes moved the dining car from its original location on Georgia Avenue to the current site along Cameron Street.
“The transformation of the combined sites into a highly-anticipated, mixed-use community will include a mix of residential and retail offerings along with the exterior incorporation of the approximately 800-square-foot dining car,” according to Roadside Development.
The company said it was too early to provide cost estimates for the project.
Even though its Silver Spring location is now shut down, Tastee Diner still has two other Maryland locations in Laurel and Bethesda.
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