Bob and Edith’s Diner, the iconic 24-hour eatery on Columbia Pike, is expanding with two new locations, including one in Crystal City that’s expected to open later this month.
Bob and Edith’s has taken over the space vacated by the former Cesar’s Diner, at 539 23rd Street S., after the end of February. Owner Greg Bolton says he hopes to open a new 24-hour Bob and Edith’s location there, serving the same diner fare as the Pike location, by March 25.
“Same menu, everything’s the same,” said Bolton. The new Crystal City location will have 20 booths, while the original has 17.
Bolton said he’s been eyeing the location — which is within easy walking distance of huge office and apartment buildings, not to mention hundreds of hotel rooms — for 10-12 years, but it only recently “dropped in my lap.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “This place is a gold mine.”
Bolton and colleagues have been busy thoroughly cleaning the interior and preparing to install new equipment, including new grills, refrigerators and a new counter. Much of the diner, including its blue booths and its gleaming metal exterior, will remain. Bolton said he’s also planning on taking advantage of the outdoor seating area in front of the diner, when the weather allows.
The Crystal City location is the first of two new locations Bolton is planning to open this spring, after years of running Bob and Edith’s as just one single diner. Another location, in the former Tommy Thai restaurant at Springfield Plaza in Springfield — “next to the Christian store,” Bolton noted — is expected to open as soon as April.
Bolton said he’s expanding “more for my kids than myself.” The Pike diner was first opened by Bolton’s parents, Robert and Edith, in 1969. It’s remained a family affair ever since, with Bolton, his wife Victoria and more recently his two children, Tammy and Chris, helping to run the restaurant alongside a couple of close family friends.
“I can go to the Gulf and [water] ski and play golf all day long, you don’t have to tell me twice,” Bolton said. “But I want to set them on another level.”
There was a second Bob and Edith’s location for a while, situated on Columbia Pike a mile and a half west of the original, but it closed in 2007. Bolton explained that it ultimately just wasn’t a good fit.
“It was just too big, it was really more of a restaurant, I felt, not a diner,” he told ARLnow.com. “I just sold it, put a few dollars in the bank, and moved on.”
The former restaurant is now slated to be torn down and replaced with a four story condo building.
As for whether Bob and Edith’s might take advantage of the Crystal City nightlife and start serving beer, Bolton didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“No liquor, just a real diner,” he said. “I don’t want the responsibility, to be honest with you. There’s enough responsibility just running a business 24 hours.”
Bolton said he’s perfectly content to let other bar owners on 23rd Street serve the booze.
“They get them drunk and I’ll sober them up,” he said.