Little Taverns

If you’re not familiar with Little Tavern restaurants, or even if you are, I think you’ll really enjoy a peek at what Spencer Stewart has put together on the subject.  Spencer has been photo-ing and researching diners for many years.  He’s now become obsessed enough with Little Taverns that he’s been making models of them — one nearly life-sized.  His recent post contains loads of info and vintage photos:
http://dinerman.wordpress.com/2010/01/15/little-tavern-locations-updated-list/

I’ll give you a quick “snapshot” here.  Little Taverns were inspired by White Castle restaurants.  By the 1940s, there were nearly 50 of these little porcelain enamel clad buildings installed in the DC/Baltimore area.  Here’s a photo from 1972 of Harry Duncan, the founder of Little Tavern, posing with a model of what the buildings looked like originally:


photo credit:  http://silverspringhistory.homestead.com/LittleTavern.html

Although the last location closed in 2009, a handful of Little Tavern buildings still survive.  This location in Laurel, MD was the most intact example of the chain in 2004 when I took this photo.  I hope these signs have been stashed away somewhere because as far as I know, these were the last remaining examples of them.

By 2008, the signs were gone, the door bricked up & building details removed as this building was converted into a donut shop:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/army_arch/2787171142/ 

This location in Baltimore was demolished shortly after I took this photo in 2003.  Note the then intact “Buy ’em by the Bag” sign on the side of the building:


Not all the news is bad.  This location in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC was restored over several years and put to use in 2007 as “Sweetgreen” (a salad and frozen yogurt place):

For more photos and info, I have a couple pages about Little Taverns at my website:
http://agilitynut.com/eateries/lt.html

And be sure to check out Spencer’s post mentioned above.

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6 thoughts on “Little Taverns

  1. I always liked these little house forms in Baltimore, Bethesda and DC. Though I did not know the history of Little Tavern. Now I wish I may have tried one of their burgers. Though they look like nothing special, it had to have been a more unique experience than White Castle. Having tried burgers from the west to the east coast I think no other food says America more.

    • I reshot all of them in the DC / Baltimore area in the past couple days. Look for the new photos at my site in a month or two. I usually come home with about 4,000 photos after these trips so it takes awhile to get everything up, researched, etc.

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