The Double T Diner chain will open its newest restaurant as early as summertime in Laurel, at the former Silver Diner on Baltimore Avenue.
The Baltimore-based diner chain applied for permits to renovate the building's interior in February, said Jack Brock, director of the Department of Planning and Business Services for the city of Laurel, and plans are currently under review. This will be the ninth Double T Diner to open across northern Maryland, including its first establishment in Catonsville and others in Perry Hall and Ellicott City.
Laurel's Silver Diner closed its doors last April after 25 years, when the company chose not to renew its lease with the landlord. Shortly after the announcement in April, Silver Diner spokeswoman Vicki Bendure said that 50 percent of the location's employees were relocated to other Silver Diners in the area.
In June, Double T Diner president John Korologos and the Laurel location's future manager, Walter Andino, 42, began negotiations with the property's landlord to purchase and reinvigorate the building. Andino said he will go before the Prince George's County Liquor Board at the end of March to request a Class B beer, wine and liquor license.
"Laurel needs a place, like Double T Diner, to have good breakfast," Andino said. "I've been working for Double T since they opened up the second one [in Pasadena] in 1993. I've done everything from being a dishwasher and busboy to a cook and manager."
The Laurel Double T Diner will be the first location in Prince George's County.
Renovations to the building will cost between $450,000 and $500,000, Andino said, and include new bathrooms, tables, booths, ceilings and additional equipment. An interior designer was hired by the Double T crew to upgrade and update the aging building.
An Aberdeen resident, Andino said he and his family have invested their time and effort in the Double T name since coming to the country from El Salvador in the early 1990s. Andino was the second member of his family to come to the U.S., he said, where his four brothers and two sisters all began employment with entry-level positions as cooks and wait staff.
Around 2005, the family members spread out to other locations.
"This is what we've learned when we first came to the U.S. It has been our career," Andino said. "We love what we do. We enjoy cooking, meeting people and making people happy. … The American dream is about to come true for us."
Maureen Rogers, administrative coordinator for the Laurel Board of Trade, said the Double T Diner will bring more faces to Laurel, while giving residents a new restaurant to try after the closure of the Silver Diner.
"We were sorry to see the Silver Diner go, but I think the Double T will be a perfect fit for that building," Rogers said. "For a lot of us, it brings back memories of other Double T Diners we've gone to."
For those looking to avoid expensive restaurants, Rogers said, Double T provides an extensive menu at low costs in a comfortable atmosphere.
"You can never take the place of Silver Diner because it was so very special, but I think this will definitely help to fill that void," she said.
Parkville attorney Kimberly Kline, who will represent Andino and Double T Diner at the upcoming liquor board hearing, said the diner's good reputation will make it a success in Laurel.
"I think they're trying to fill a little space that may have been left when the Silver Diner left the area," Kline said. "I know there were a lot of people in dismay about Silver Diner leaving. It will be nice to let them know that there's something else that's coming."
Although an opening date has not been determined, Andino said they hope to have the kitchen open for business by the Fourth of July.
"If we could do it then, that would be great for us," he said. "We're ready for the big challenge. We'll brighten it up and have a great time and wonderful people around."