I'm often asked "What gave you the idea to bring back the old time diner?" The answer is simple. I grew up going to diners and they've always occupied a special place in my heart. I think of a diner as a neighborhood gathering place where there's something for everyone at any time of the day or night.
There is something special about a diner from nostalgic tabletop jukeboxes to comfortable booths to the friendly people. So when my partner, Ype Von Hengst, and I wanted to start an American family cuisine restaurant that bridges the gap between tablecloth restaurants and fast food, the old-time diner was the perfect answer. We went on the road and spent a year visiting over 500 diner style restaurants in big and small towns across America seeking to understand the timeless appeal of this American icon. What has made diners so successful for over 100 years? Of course, diners are known for their unique roadside architecture and generous helpings of home-style food, but the heart of what brings customers back to the diner again and again is the people. It's the folks who serve you and make you feel welcome that makes a diner feel like a home away from home.
Today, years later, I am proud to say that our Silver Diner team of almost 1,500 associates and managers serve over 4 million customers a year in seventeen locations, fulfilling our mission "To Be The Best We Can Be."
Founder, President and CEO
Ype Von Hengst
Founder and Executive Chef
Birth of a Concept
In 1988, Silver Diner co-founders Robert Giaimo andChef Ype Von Hengst sought to establish an American family cuisine restaurant that bridged the gap between fast food chains and tablecloth restaurants. After touring the country visiting the best diner-styled restaurants, Giaimo and Von Hengst opened the original Silver Diner in Rockville, MD.
Giaimo grew up going to diners, which had always occupied a special place in his heart. With a lifelong passion and interest in diners serving as the ‘neighborhood gathering place’, Giaimo and Von Hengst spent a year visiting more than 500 diner-styled restaurants in small towns and large cities across the country. Their objective was to better understand how the classic American diner had been successful for more than 100 years.
Giaimo and Von Hengst knew that the unique roadside architecture and generous helpings of home-styled food had always been part of the widespread appeal of diners. They understood there was something special about diners - uniquely American, democratic institutions where the very look of the building on the outside – a shiny beacon, invites people in for diverse fare, including everything from homemade pie to a Bison burger. Giaimo and Von Hengst sought to recreate that authenticity.
In 1989, Giaimo and Von Hengst opened the original Silver Diner in Rockville, Maryland. In November of 2010, the flagship location was rebuilt, and now boasts annual sales of $7 million and remains one of the busiest restaurants of its sizes in the United States. It is the largest chain of diners in America with the highest average sales per store of its kind.
From 1990 to 1997, Silver Diner established nine more locations in Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey. Contributing to the growth was the quickly established reputation as a family gathering place, making Silver Diner the preferred spot for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From Blueplate Specials to specialty shakes, the menu was filled with Authentic American Classics and modern tastes.
Silver Diner Development, Inc. now operates 15 restaurants in the mid-Atlantic region of the United States with locations in New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia, and employs more than 1,100 people. In 2007, Silver Diner established its first airport location with the opening of its restaurant in the AIRMALL® at Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport. The Silver Diner at BWI Airportincludes a broad and diverse entrée selection featuring American classics, all-day breakfast, a classic American retro bar, and take-out options designed to cater to the airline passenger on the fly.
The Next Generation
With 20 years passed since opening the original location in Rockville, Silver Diner transformed the diner your grandfather knew into a diner for the next generation of guests. By listening to what our guests had to say, the all-new Fresh & Local menu was developed using ingredients from local sources wherever possible and offering healthier options to meet today’s lifestyles. A concept re-born, Silver Diner has positioned itself as the premier destination for families seeking high quality menu options in a friendly diner atmosphere.
Today, the Fresh & Local menu uses fresh products from over 15 local producers and offers vegetarian, gluten-free, and low-calorie options. The kids menu has 20 healthier meals and sides that meet strict dietary guidelines set by the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program. Of course, classic diner options can still be found on the menu, but with a twist: pancakes using unbleached flour, burgers made from antibiotic and hormone-free beef, milkshakes prepared with milk from local farms, and much more.
At Silver Diner, providing guests with local products and healthier options is an ongoing journey, not a destination. We believe and live this everyday:
We Buy Fresh and Local, You Eat Well!
Silver Diner Photos
- Work/Life Balance
- Culture & Values
- Career Opportunities
- Comp & Benefits
- Senior Management
I worked at Silver Diner full-time (Less than a year)
They truly care about their people; strong teamwork; very supportive; family-like work atmosphere; corporate is very involved in a very positive way; high standards.
Very long hours due to the restaurant hours of operation (6:30am-2am at most locations). Quick employee turnover in some locations.
Advice to Management
More managers would allow for more flexibility in managers' hours. Otherwise, I think the company is strong and growing and full of talented and dedicated people. Utilize them!
Getting an Interview
Getting an Interview
- Accepted OfferPositive ExperienceAverage Interview
I applied online. The process took a week. I interviewed at Silver Diner (Waldorf, MD) in April 2015.
Saw an ad that they were hiring, I applied online. Got a call within a week for an interview. Went in the next day, sat down with the manager and he told me they had a test that I need to take. Asked me a few questions and wrote down some things, then he told me I passed the test. Then I interviewed with the GM and he hired me on the spot.
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This company offers something nostalgic for dinner. Silver Diner owns and operates about 15 restaurants in the Washington, DC/Baltimore metropolitan area that recreate the look and feel of a 1950s diner. The eateries, appointed with polished stainless steel, glass blocks, and tabletop jukeboxes, offer such time-honored diner fare as buttermilk pancakes, meatloaf, and apple pie. Silver Diner locations are typically open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night meals. CEO Bob Giaimo and executive chef Ype Von Hengst started the company in 1989.