Sunday, August 16, 2009

Down Home Diner Re-Do

Jack McDavid wants to renovate his Down Home Diner to break out of his walls and become more intimate with the Reading Terminal Market.

RTM GM Paul Steinke says that in lease negotations, McDavid indicated he wants to tear down the walls that separate his eatery from the rest of the market. He also will be seeking a liquor license, making the restaurant a more viable option for convention-goers who’d like a drink with their meal but don’t want to deal with a state store. If he gets the license, odds are the Down Home Diner’s hours will be expanded to 8 or 9 p.m., maybe beyond. Right now it stays open until 7 p.m. Monday-Saturay (only until 5 p.m. Sundays). When the market’s closed (6 p.m. weekdays) the diner has its own entrance along Filbert Street.

McDavid took over what had been the Market Diner in the mid-1980s. The original, a freestanding diner that would look at home on a North Jersey highway, stood where Amy’s Place and La Cucina at the Market now do business. After the RTM was renovated with the construction of the convention center, McDavid moved to the current location. In subsequent years McDavid expanded to two other restaurants in town: one at Fairmount and 18th, now closed, another, Jack’s Firehouse, at Fairmount near 22nd. The latter is now owned by Fairmount resident and ex-Twenty Twenty-One manager Mick Houston, though Jack still has a say in the kitchen.

Old City Coffee is nearing completion of the renovation of its second stall, on the Arch Street side of the market across from Blue Mountain Winery and the Pennsylvania General Store. The conversion of the stall from a temporary to a permanet outlet should be finished this week.

There wasn’t much visible progress at Fair Food’s new stall, but Sarah Cain, manager, said carpentry work is progressing off-site and refrigerated cases should start to arrive this week. They’re keeping their fingers crossed for opening the weekend of Sept. 4-5, the weekend before labor day.

No work yet at Beck’s Cajun Cafe, which has got its permits but is still lining up contractors.

S&B Meats and Barb & Suzie’s Kitchen still optimistic they can open by August 26. Can’t wait to try those bacon fries, whatever they are!

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