Elegy for a Diner

Photo courtesy of Paige Weaver
courtesy of Paige Weaver

I’ve been trying to come to terms with this all day. I’ve been sitting on this post for a few hours, but it seems right now to post it. Since we moved to Brookland, our weekend haunt has been the beautiful steel diner on Bladensburg road, the Capital City Diner. I first set foot in the diner about two years ago, as we were looking at houses, and I sat down for the most amazing patty melt and milkshake I’ve had in this fair city. Since then, it’s been our Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast location. Seeing Cheryl, Matt, Frank and Sylvia each weekend has become a highlight in my week. Sunday, the Diner will close, but not before throwing one last hurrah this weekend.

When I heard today, I drove over to the Diner to get the news from owner Matt Ashburn. I was greeted at the door by Cheryl, who immediately wrapped me in a bear hug. That’s pretty much when I lost it. Cap City has been a weekend home for us. We brought Matt and Cheryl homemade jam, farm peaches, and cranberry relish, and they kept us topped up on coffee and Diet Coke, including one memorable occasion when despite being out of soda, Cheryl ran up the street to get us some.

Capital City Diner has been an oasis for us, and one of my DC Talismans, a place that I go when I need to feel that something in this world is in perfect order. The letter up on their website cites rising costs and nearby competition from a national chain that rhymes with Lenny’s. The end of the Diner may well be attributable to Harry Thomas Jr., who worked hard to bring the chain restaurant to Trinidad after seeing the Diner thrive. While perhaps bringing more business to Bladensburg Road near Trinidad is good for the local economy, something Thomas wasn’t exactly known for, his last good act might have killed the thing I loved most in the District.

Photo courtesy of Kevin H.
Chicken and Waffle, Capital City Diner
courtesy of Kevin H.

Thank you, Matt, Cheryl, Sylvia and Frank, for the calm that you brought to my life, for the food that you made (seriously, I have no idea how you make that fried chicken, but it’s goddamned magical), and for your incredible support and friendship.

We’ll see you this weekend for one last finale. But I’ll probably cry.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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2 thoughts on “Elegy for a Diner

  1. Tom,

    Thank you truly for the sincere, touching post. It’s obviously difficult for all of us, too, and we hope everything will work out for the best.

    You’ve touched on something that really hits home for me personally. We’re not your typical place, and I’m very grateful the diner’s evolved into something that I hoped it would. We know our customers by first name, and we consider them friends above all else.

    Thank you for realizing that we’re indeed atypical- a place where folks can feel at home, catch up with each other, and make new friends from all walks of life. That’s how an American diner should be, and it’s sad to think it’s come to a close.

    With much sadness and sincerity,

    Matt Ashburn