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Wish Your Neighborhood Had a Diner? Buy This One on eBay

Wish Your Neighborhood Had a Diner? Buy This One on eBay
Matt Ashburn

Two and a half years ago, Matt Ashburn and Patrick Carl looked around their then-restaurant starved neighborhood, Washington, D.C.'s Trinidad, and decided to open a classic diner. But instead of building a new one, they imported one from upstate New York. Here's a quote from an email that Ashburn sent me about it back in May of 2009:

We bought a Silk City Diner, manufactured by Paterson Vehicle Company in 1947, that has been in upstate New York ever since it was put into service.

The nation's capital currently has no true diners that I'm aware of; that is, historic modular diner buildings manufactured during 1930-60. So, we're bringing one to DC by moving it from New York.

It seemed like a great idea at the time, and for a while, Capital City Diner was a pretty hoppin' place. Its location on Bladensburg Road, a commercial strip better known for its auto repair shops that happens to transect two otherwise residential neighborhoods, made it a popular destination for locals.

The restaurant industry is a notoriously tough one, though, and Ashburn ended up closing Capital City at the end of January. (A goodbye message to regulars placed at least some of the blame on a Denny's that opened down the street last year). So now Ashburn has to unload the diner itself, which he's attempting to do on eBay:

While we've tried to find a local buyer to take it over, it's been a challenge, so we're putting this up on eBay.

We'd like to sell this to someone interested in preserving the diner, and it can be moved to anywhere you desire (we have the contact information for a reputable diner mover). It's in great shape, and we ran all new electric and plumbing before we opened 2 years ago.  We just closed in January, so we're also including all of our fixtures, equipment, etc.

The diner measures approximately 14' x 40', and we added a small 8x16 addition on the back for two restrooms and storage. The diner seats 36- 5 booths (4 each) and 16 stools.  More seating may be available with a different configuration (tables/chairs instead of booths), and we added an outdoor patio at this location to increase capacity.

UPDATE: Ashburn says he's honestly not sure exactly how much he's looking to get for the diner, but pins his break-even number at $80,000. The ad does mention that it cost him approximately $12,000 to move the diner from Avoca, New York, to D.C., "but moving the diner to your location may be more or less depending on your distance and other factors."

Capital City Diner devotees in D.C. may be heartbroken, but perhaps the diner would have better luck in your city?

Sommer Mathis is editor of The Atlantic Cities. Previously she spent five years editing and reporting on the D.C. metro area at DCist.com and TBD.com. All posts »

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