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Mar 1, 2007 05:08 AM

Been around forever - must be doing *something* right?

This thread has its genesis in my thoughts while posting this morning on the "Top Five Pizza Places in Baltimore" thread. I had visited Squires (an old-time Dundlak pizza favorite) and found that they had a style very similar to that of Pizza John's, which is a local pizza legend in Essex that I came across recently (thanks again to fellow chowhounds!).

That got me thinking about what other pizza places in the area have been around for decades (Matthew's, circa 1943, for example) - wondering if there might be other areas in and around Baltimore that might have a recognizable local pizza style, similar to the Essex/Dundalk style that Squire's and Pizza John's have in common.

And then *that* got me thinking about what other restaurants in the area have "been there forever", besides pizza places. So, on the theory that any place that endures for twenty or thirty years or more must be doing *something* that keeps folks coming back, I thought I'd put out the call for the longest-lived establishments you know of in the area - where they are, how long you think they've been around, what kind of place (pizza joint, burger joint, tavern with food, "family restaurant", ethnic place, "special occasion", etc.) they are, and any other comments or history you may be able to provide.

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  1. Well you'd say that about La Fourchette, but they aren't doing much of anything right. I guess Millie & Al's with their constant presence of 19 year olds might be doing something right since it's one of the oldest places in Adams Morgan.

    1. Vienna Inn quickly comes to mind. My fave story about this that I've heard is that the new owner (since circa 2000) is the son of the previous owners, that he went to CIA (the food one) yet kept the menu the same when he took over. Imagine - CIA to make chili dogs and wings.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Dennis S

        Actually, the story you're retelling is all wrong.

        You're talking about Mark, the son of Mike and Mollie Abraham who founded and ran the Vienna Inn forever, until Mike died and Mollie sold the place. Mark was, indeed, a CIA grad, but returned to the Vienna Inn to help his parents and raise his three sons where he grew up. Now, he runs a lovely B&B in Connecticut, and the Vienna Inn is owned by people I surely don't know, but I knew the Abrahams forever, and they were - Mollie still is - the best of the best people.

        And, there's a lot more to running a restaurant than fixing chili dogs - something Mark never did.

        1. re: Atlantis

          Thanks for the correction - I knew around the story but never could get the full info by asking while there.

          Certainly know your last point and I wasn't implying that is easy. I was formerly engaged to an aspiring chef, and I know what goes into plate pricing/food cost mngmt alone!

          1. re: Dennis S

            I thought working at the Vienna Inn was hard work, but when I saw what Mark and his wife had to do to keep a B&B going, I was really glad I went to law school.

            Hardest jobs in the world, they are, and, yeah, I knew you got it. I was just sticking up for Mark, my old buddy.

        2. re: Dennis S

          The guy who owns Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, CT does just that. (I know it's out of region)

        3. Hershey's Restaurant in Gaithersburg has been around since 1969 and was a take-out place before that. It is kind of half tavern half family restaurant. It is in an old house that used to double as a post office until 1978 across the street from train tracks. It is really a relic from another time - in a good way. The food is more than servicable, but by no means is it fine dining.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dcs

            Hershey's is great, a relic from the days before Gaithersburg (or Washington Grove, more correctly) was a Washington suburb. The drinks are cheap, the food is decent and the bar clintele is a friendly and interesting mix of long-time locals and butch lesbians. The fried chicken and steamed shrimp are standouts.

          2. In Alexandria, there's Table Talk on Duke Street, just before Old Town; you can get the best pies and breakfasts that are traditional and classic and really good. It's only open for breakfast and lunch, and the regulars - as well as the waitresses - are a real trip.

            There is also - after more than 100 years - the Royal Restaurant, in what is now being called "North Old Town," at 734 North St. Asaph Street, a place that defies description, it's so traditonal. It's where you want to take your Granny for her birthday, but you can also rock out on their Elvis nights (if they still have them), their FABULOUS genuine vintage working jukebox, the checkered linoleum floor, the incredibly good, made-from-scratch milkshakes, their always home-roasted turkeys and hams.

            You do not want to miss their club sandwich. It's the best I've ever had. And ask them about the beef stew and the beef stew pot.

            The Royal's also got absolutely GREAT breakfasts. My law partners and I had breakfast there almost every day for years, and we were never disappointed. Oatmeal, grits, you name it - they excel at it.

            The chocolate cake.

            I have to stop now.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Atlantis

              Used to work in Old Town and agree with Mr. Atlantis 100% on both counts.

              1. re: Atlantis

                Went to Table Talk for the first time today, despite driving by the place for years and years and never stopping before. The food was good, the coffee was hot, and the staff was friendly. We got there a little after 8, and the parking lot was pretty empty. By 8:30, there wasn't a table or an empty parking space to spare. One wonders, if the place is only open for breakfast and lunch why they have a full bar, though? Anyway, two thumbs up.

              2. I think Luigi's south of Dupont is the oldest Italian place in DC. Been around since 1943, which must be some kind of record. I think Restaurant AV has been around since the early 1950s, but this is their last year before getting turned into condos.


                There's still a few old timers left: Stoneys has been around since the '70s but moved recently, I think Sign of the Whale downtown was started back in the late 1960s. Old Europe opened back in 1948 and they're still going strong.


                Waffle Shop across from Ford Theater dates from the late 1950s, but this is their last year as well. We've lost quite a few older places recently: Sherrills, Scholl's Cafeteria, Blackie's. And I think there's talk of Table Talk getting turned into condos as well.

                1 Reply
                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  TABLE TALK WHAT????????????

                  That's news to me. Oh, say it isn't so!!!! That place is surrounded by towering constructions already, and it would be such an awful fate if it were to turn into one of them.

                  Oh, NO!!!!!!!!