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Abandoned Restaurants

I thought it would be interesting to ask people about restaurants they drive by everyday, which somehow manage to stay in business despite the fact that customers are rarely ever seen. I thought of this becuase when driving up to Laurel, MD, I always pass a place called La Gringada, which 90% of the time, is utterly deserted. We actually stopped in one time to try it, which was very awkward. It was completely dark inside, no other patrons, and I believe our meal was microwaved by a highschool drop-out. And this place has been there for at least 10 years. How do these places stay in business, and who frequents them? Have any good stories about terrible, deserted restaurants? And has anyone else out there been to La Gringada?

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  1. About 10 years ago someone recommended La Gringada to me and I went. Big mistake but the curiosity factor plays a big role when you see a place every day. All I remember about the meal was the distinctly velveeta like cheese. At times though you do see a smattering of cars out front.

    1. Gringada opened in the mid '70's. I used to drive from Silver Spring to Vienna to go to Anita's when it first opened in the early '70's. A friend told me about the "new" Gringada's and how good it was, on route 1 just south of Laurel. I went. Thirty + years and I still haven't returned.

      1. We just stopped in there last week, and it has a lot of promise. There is no longer the salsa with the consistency of ketchup. No more microwaved food. I had a turkey mole with some nice mole negro, and my husband had a combo platter that certainly passed muster, if the tamale and the chalupa are criteria to judge by. The outdoor patio looks very nice, too.

        1. I remember going with some co-workers to Ruffino's on Lee Hwy in Arlington, which brags about being there since '75. One lunch was enough to return it to drive-by status.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bob W

            I was also thinking about Ruffino's. Some of these places might just serve as a way to get a spouse out of the house.

            1. re: MsDiPesto

              Egad! I haven't been to Ruffino's for 30 years, but back then, it was pretty good. Of course we didn't have Olive Garden to compare it to back then either. <g>

          2. Funny we stopped in this Saturday-I thought the food was very mediocre. Pretty little place, decent service.

            1. Also good are restaurants that you feel SHOULD be abandoned that seem to have cars there all the time, inexplicably.

              One such restaurant is this "steak house" in Route 1 in College Park (driving north from UMD). Its name escapes me, but it's in a double wide trailer propped up on some cinder blocks, and I believe has a drive-through, and also doubles as a liquor store.

              1 Reply
              1. re: emmaleeb

                That was Lasick's. It was a restaurant and liquor store until it burnt to the ground (arson) in 2004 or 2005.

                The owner never rebuilt it - they just reopened the liquor store in a trailer. And I think even that's gone now.

                I never had a great meal at Lasick's, but it was a decent place for live music (I used to be in a band that played there and I played at their Sunday afternoon blues jams many times). And they had okay bar food. Apparently they had some good Polish food, but I never tried it.

                I grew up in Laurel, and loved Gringada in the 70s, 80s and early 90s. I don't know if it was better back then or my tastes have changed.

              2. The thread title made me think of TRULY abandoned restaurants: The Chesapeake House and Haussner's, giant hulking shuttered restaurants that have just been sitting vacant for years. I got to eat at Haussner's once back in the day but as far as I remember the Chesapeake House has been closed. Ridiculous. (supposedly something is going to happen with the building but I'll believe it when I see it.)

                2 Replies
                1. re: kukubura

                  There's a big redevelopment plan for Highlandtown if the Red Line transit plan makes it through the political process. In the illustrated guide to this plan is the vacant Haussner's building, which would be redeveloped into a kind of mixed-use shopping venue. Someone tried briefly to reopen it as a restaurant three years ago and lasted a few months. It won't get razed.

                  1. re: jkosnett

                    There's also a similar plan for the Chesapeake House building (mixed use, upscale condos, retail, etc) as well as one like that for the Rotunda.

                    You hold your breath and wait for all that to happen. In the meantime I'll find someplace else to eat! ;)

                2. There's a Filipino restaurant in the Arlington Forest shopping center called Little Quiapo that's been there for over 20 years that I don't think I've ever seen more than two tables occupied at the same time. I've never eaten there, but my wife went with a Filipino friend who said it wasn't very good.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Henry Spencer

                    With the very dependable Crystal Thai right there, why take a chance on an unknown quantity? I looked at this place every time I went to Crystal Thai (I used to work in Falls Church; now it's sadly too out of the way) I wondered about Little Quiapo. Thanks for letting me know I never missed much.