Save the Laurel Tastee Diner
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Laurel's historic Tastee Diner at 118 Washington Boulevard is being purchased, with plans to radically transform the iconic 1951 structure into an unrecognizable building housing a medical marijuana dispensary.
The diner has been owned by Gene Wilkes' Tastee Diner franchise since 1976, but operated prior to that as the Laurel Diner. This Comac-built diner—one of only two known fully-intact surviving models—arrived by truck from New Jersey in 1951, replacing an older model which had occupied the site since 1934. In fact, since 1931, there have been three diners at 118 Washington Boulevard.
The Laurel Diner should be designated as a historic property, and celebrated in this town as one of the very few remaining structures of its type in the country—not hidden behind and gutted by yet another nondescript building wrap; replaced by a business that may only benefit a very small portion of Laurel's residents.
All things change, sadly; and it's Mr. Wilkes' right to sell the business after so many years of hard work. It's also the buyer's right to purchase the property and begin a new business venture. This petition isn't intended to block the sale—only to urge all parties to explore reasonable options to allow this historic diner car to be preserved, relocated, and revitalized elsewhere in Laurel, without impeding the buyer's plans.
The diner, fortunately, is portable. It can be relocated if necessary. In fact, moving it to nearby Main Street could be a key ingredient in revitalizing the Historic District and creating a truly unique setting that would transform Main Street for generations to come.
This would also not hinder the sale of the property or the new owner's plans to develop—the diner car itself is but a small, movable portion of the larger, brick and mortar building behind it (which houses the bar and kitchen areas). They can still build according to their design—just without sacrificing the diner car underneath.
The City of Laurel has the opportunity and incentive to step in and purchase the diner car if need be. The former Laurel Theatre/Petrucci's Dinner Theatre lot continues to sit empty—perhaps it could now house the diner.
Developers such as C Street Flats, who already have plans to expand to Main Street, could explore options for integrating the diner into their own storefront level businesses, and would likely already have the means to seamlessly implement a new management company to run it. Likewise, buildings with historic designation should be eligible for grants that could also help a new developer truly revitalize the structure, making it better than ever.
What we can do
Laurel residents, please go to the next City Council meeting on Monday, November 26th at 7PM, and let them know that you signed this petition—along with over 1,500 other people who want to see our historic diner preserved and moved to Main Street.
Laurel Municipal Center
8103 Sandy Spring Rd
Laurel, MD 20707
Mayor and City Council Meeting
Monday, November 26, 2018
7:00pm to 9:00pm
In addition to attending the City Council meeting, two KEY MEETINGS are the December 11 Planning Commission Meeting and the December 20 Board of appeals meeting.
I'm the creator of Lost Laurel (www.lostlaurel.com and www.facebook.com/lostlaurel) and one of the Laurel History Boys (www.laurelhistory.com) We're interested in preserving and sharing stories of our hometown's history, focusing primarily on 20th century businesses, crimes, and pop culture.
View a quick teaser of a History of the Laurel Diner video that we're currently producing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3Z-jnq-EfA
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0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!