Old N.J. diner will get new life in Jessup Owner is baker at Army hospital NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE


When Franklin Davis opens Frank's Diner in Jessup, it won't be another sparkling new diner replica cashing in on the continuing fascination with '50s culture.

Frank's Diner will be an authentic diner -- cashing in on the continuing fascination with '50s culture.

The old Olympia Diner, formerly of Carney's Point, N.J., will get a second life as Frank's Diner in Jessup when Mr. Davis opens his new restaurant early next year.

Mr. Davis plans to move the 65-by-16-foot diner from New Jersey and place it on a new foundation at the Jessup site, located at U.S. 1 and Cedar Ave.

The diner, which seats 98 customers, is an American classic with red vinyl seats, a tile floor, a pastel color scheme and lots of stainless steel.

"I think it brings back memories to some people like myself who visited diners when they were in," said Mr. Davis, 52, of Severn.

Goal is to be the best

In the past 30 years Mr. Davis has cooked for the army, for prison inmates and for hospital patients, but he's always wanted his own place.

"When you go into a specific field you want to be the best in that field," Mr. Davis said. "That's my ultimate goal."

Mr. Davis didn't set out to find an authentic old diner.

Bill Bornyek, the real estate agent who helped Mr. Davis find a site in Jessup, discovered the Olympia Diner on a trip to Atlantic City, N.J. He thought it would be ideal for Mr. Davis.

After a few trips to New Jersey to negotiate with the diner's owner, Mr. Davis bought it.

For 30 years, two brothers ran the Olympia Diner, but it had been closed for about 10 years after one brother died, Mr. Bornyek said.

"If he could find an old-time juke box he'll just be running back and forth to the bank," said Mr. Bornyek, a Realtor with O'Conor Piper and Flynn's Columbia office.

Frank's Diner plans to offer "home-cooked meals at a good value," said Mr. Davis' wife, Linda, who plans to help with the paperwork side of the business and work weekends at the diner.

The menu will include burgers, homemade soups, meatloaf, and Frank's chicken and ribs, featuring the owner's barbecue sauce.

The diner also will have an old-fashioned soda fountain, dispensing sundaes, ice cream floats and malteds.

Seating to be expanded

In addition to the old diner from New Jersey, the Davises plan to build a separate section that will seat 30, bringing the total seating capacity to about 128. Construction is scheduled to begin in four months.

"We were shopping around for a while to find the right location and this site stuck out because of all the industrial business in the area," Mrs. Davis said of the Jessup site.

Mr. Davis said he first became interested in food when he used to watch his aunt cook.

He pursued his fondness for cooking during his 22 years in the Army, working in food service and taking advantage of educational courses in the field. He retired from the Army in 1981.

Since then he has earned an associate's degree in food service management from the University of Hawaii, worked in management at Denny's restaurants and held the position of food service manager for the Montgomery County Detention Center.

Currently he's the night baker at Kimbrough Army Community Hospital at Fort Meade, working from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Mr. Davis also is putting in many hours making preparations for the diner. But his wife and 11-year-old daughter know they'll see even less of him once the restaurant opens.

"He'll be there full-time and plus," Mrs. Davis said. "But that's what it takes."

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