Laurel residents and visitors can now travel back in time to the 1950s to share a meal, enjoy a funnel cake or eat a Game of Thrones-themed burger all thanks to new eateries that have popped up in the city.
Since January, the Double T Diner, the Flavor Garden and the Mad Cow Grill have all opened for business in Laurel.
City of Laurel Economic Development Coordinator Leigha Steele, offers support to business owners by helping them find retail space and assists them with starting a business in Laurel.
When asked if the recent openings represent a spike or trend, Steele said that currently, Laurel is growing and there is a lot of development happening around the city and Prince George’s County.
Double T Diner
Walter Andino has been an member of the Double T Diner family for 25 years, wearing many hats, starting out as a busboy and now opening the chain’s newest location in Laurel.
“It’s a great opportunity to be here and provide the best things possible for the community of Laurel,” said Andino, whose last hat was being the manager of the White Marsh location.
The diner officially opened on June 11, after facing months of delays.
Extra time was needed for roof construction, getting the kitchen ready, resealing the parking lot and adding in landscaping features, took extra time, said Double T Diner president John Korologos.
Korologos and Andino purchased the former Silver Diner location in June 2016, with the goal to keep it a diner. The Laurel Silver Diner closed after 25 years of service in April 2016, after the company decided against renewing its lease.
“I like the location, it used to be a diner before,” Korologos said. “I decided to give it a shot.”
Andino wants to provide the best comfort food and quality service possible. For now, the Laurel location is serving a smaller menu As things are cooking up in the kitchen, it will serve the regular menu options which will include daily specials, salads, sandwiches, burgers, vegetarian options, desserts and a children's menu.
Like its sister locations, the Double T Diner has a 1950s diner decor, with booths and counter seating, jukeboxes at most tables and big displays of desserts.
Pastries are popular treats, includingstrawberry shortcakes, cheesecakes and more, Andino said.
For now the menu features breakfast and lunch options and some dinner entrées.
While many Double T diners are open 24 hours, the Laurel location is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week.
Korologos, whose been the president for 32 years, is excited about the new location.
“It’s just the beginning … I’m very optimistic,” he said.
This the eighth Double T Diner location to open in Maryland. The Laurel location was set to be number nine but the Frederick restaurant closed this past February.
The oldest location which opened in 1959, is in Catonsville off of Route 40.
Deirdre Holliday-Williams, wants to be “the Auntie of Laurel,” especially for children.
Owner of Flavor Garden, a new snack bar, Holliday-Williams, 39, of Beltsville, wants itto be a place for children to come, get ice-cream and know it’s a safe and fun place to be.
She sells snack food items including hot dogs, sausages, sandwiches, chicken, french fries and what’s becoming increasingly popular are her funnel cakes.
“It’s funny because I make them [funnel cakes] all the time at home, but you can’t really get funnel cakes around here unless there’s a carnival or something,” Holliday-Williams said.
Hand poured and available in two sizes, miniature and full-sized, the funnel cakes are offered with a variety of toppings. Customers can choose from hot strawberries, apples, cinnamon and sugar, chocolate and a scoop of ice-cream.
“I’m all about food, I don’t think food has to be so pretentious and so snooty,” she said.
Homemade rubs, spices and sauces, which she also sells in the snack bar, season most of her food..
Holliday-Williams began making her own rubs, spices and sauces after her mother Andrea Holliday, 70, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and lost her appetite because of a “metallic taste.”Holliday-Williams seasoned her mother’s meals to help her maintain weight.
Her mom, who is in remission and lives in Washington, D.C., works with her daughter at the snack bar twice a week.
Other family members havehelped her tremendously with getting the new business opened. Holliday-Williams sister, Stacey Holliday, 32, of Laurel, has been her motivation.
“She’s kind of my right hand person, Holliday-Williams said. “She told me that it’s hard [to open a business], but to do it, just do it.”
Holliday-Williams niece, Alicia Holliday, also 32 and of Laurel, helped her find the space, which is just a building between her niece’s own business, My Open Chair, where hairdressers can rent a chair to work.
Her son, Donovan Williams, 11, is his mother’s “protector.” He sweeps up, takes out the trash, cleans off tables and when there’s a lull, Holliday-Williams lets him work the cash register. He will attend Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in the fall.
Her husband , Jeffrey Williams, suddenly passed away due to a car accident in 2013. He was 37 years old.
“The worst is that it [the snack bar] doesn't work, I’ve been through a lot already [and] we survived that, so we can do anything,” she said.
Flavor Garden had a soft opening in April and had it’s official grand-opening this past Saturday, which Holliday-Williams said “it was awesome.”
“I didn’t know how to expect, I was pleasantly surprised,” she said. “A lot of the people came have been here before and there was a line outside the door.”
It’s a true family place, Holliday-Williams said.
“I definitely want families to come here, I priced it so it's affordable and people have seen said ‘your prices are really good,’” she said.
Flavor Garden, on Montgomery St., is open Tuesday through Sunday. Hours are 12 to 8 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays; and on Sundays, from 12 to 6 p.m. It’s located on Montgomery Street in Laurel.
Mad Cow Grill
For the co-owners of Mad Cow Grill, their main mission is to serve fresh food, made from scratch.
“We were kind of tired of the corporate scene, people weren’t using fresh products anymore … and everyone wants food fast,” said Ed Reynoso, a co-owner known as Chef Ed. “We wanted to do something that would take the time and we do everything from scratch.”
The restaurant is a fusion of Caribbean, American and southern flavors and foods.
“I do the Caribbean side of the menu and Chef Ed does a mixture of everything,” said Neville Nugent, a co-owner. “We both brought our flavors together and we learn from each other as well.”
Reynoso, 39, of Laurel, opened the restaurant with Nugent, 45, of Cheverly, in January. The restaurant's brunch menu features both of their renditions of shrimp and grits.
The hardest thing for the duo was coming up with the name of the restaurant. Reynoso, came up with Mad Cow Grill, after wanting something edgy and also to take away people’s misconceptions of mad cow disease, a brain disorder found in adult cattle that can be spread to humans who consume contaminated beef with a cattle’s central nervous system tissue, such as the brain and spinal cord.
“We wanted to take that name [mad cow disease] and reclaim it,” Reynoso said. “It’s definitely something you don’t forget.”
The pair settled on its location after seeing it features a patio, Reynoso said.
Nugent said that the patio also “gives off an island feel.” That was the whole quote.
In the past six months, they have increased their initial staff of eight to 40 employees.
“This is one of the fast growing restaurants I’ve ever worked in,” said Nugent, who is originally from Jamaica and whose family owned bars and a restaurant.
Reynoso said that the turnout has been “incredible,” with an hour wait on most Fridays and Saturdays. They also haven’t tapped into their saved marketing dollars.
Both had a following after working in the restaurant industry for many years, Nugent said, but “we see a lot of new customers every day as well.”
“There are always new customers coming, it’s growing and that’s a good feeling,” Nugent said.
The restaurant serves brunch on Sundays and happy hour Tuesday through Saturday.
Mad Cow Grill, Laurel Shopping Center, is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.