At the Little Tavern in Laurel

Yesterday’s Zippy goes out for sliders:

(#1) Zippy chats with counter man Sid at the Zipworld counterpart of the Little Tavern, 115 Washington Blvd. in Laurel MD, where donuts now roll alongside the sliders

The Laurel Little Tavern in its heyday (reproduced closely in #1):


And now repurposed as Laurel Tavern Donuts:


where the new owners (Korean immigrants) continue to provide the famous sliders (all beef, fresh-ground):


while also offering excellent donuts:


From Wikipedia:

Little Tavern Shops was a chain of hamburger restaurants in Baltimore, Maryland; Arlington, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and surrounding areas.

The first Little Tavern opened March 24, 1927, in Louisville, Kentucky, by Harry F. Duncan. The first Washington location was opened in October 1928 and the first in Baltimore opened its doors in June 1930…  At the height of the chain, there were almost 50 locations… [But] the last restaurant closed on April 29, 2008, although the Laurel location was reopened that year as Laurel Tavern Donuts and was handed down the recipe for the burgers…

The original slogan of the chain was “Buy ’em by the bag”, and its signs promised “Cold drinks * Good Coffee”. The stores were quite small and could accommodate only a few seated customers, while most business was take-out.

… Baltimore No. 3 was the first Little Tavern to employ the “Tudor cottage” design that would become so closely associated with the chain for years to come

… the architectural style that so impresses Zippy in #1.

(On sliders, see my 9/5/16 posting “A Minneapolis fling”.)

I’ve told the Little Tavern story before, in a 4/8/14 posting “Repurposing”, about a Zippy strip on the Little Tavern on 25th St. in Baltimore, repurposed as a Pizza Deal, and on the verb repurpose.

On the Laurel  shop, from the Lost Laurel site on 5/31/15:

the building is still there at 115 Washington Boulevard — just across the street from the Tastee Diner. In fact, since it reopened as Laurel Tavern Donuts in 2008, it’s the only known establishment that still makes the famous Little Tavern Sliders from the original recipe, which was handed down by a former manager at the restaurant. Laurel’s Little Tavern first opened in 1939, and was among the very last to close its doors.

Now to a still-unsolved mystery about the strip: the pork connection, in the title “Pork by-product” and in Sid’s reference to Porky Pig as his lawyer. Not that everything in a Zippy strip has to hang together, but these references led me to Porky Pig’s house and to a Porky Pig cartoon episode involving a lawyer.

On the house, from a Looney Tunes wiki:


Porky’s House is where Porky Pig lives. It first appeared in Newspaper Thief. It has a guest room, bathroom, secret room, kitchen, garage, living room and master bedroom.

Porky’s house is a classic bungalow in front, with a larger two-story house grafted on in the back. I’ll get on to Porky and the lawyer in a moment, but first a

Digression on bungalows. From Wikipedia:

(#7) An Arts and Crafts bungalow; compare to #6, noting the tapered columns (resting on brick bases) supporting the porch roof and the wood-slat railings

A bungalow is a type of building, originally developed in the Bengal region in South Asia, but now found throughout the world. The meaning of the word bungalow varies internationally. Common features of many bungalows include verandas and being low-rise. In Australia, the California bungalow associated with the United States was popular after the First World War. In North America and the United Kingdom, a bungalow today is a house, normally detached, that may contain a small loft. It is either single-story or has a second story built into a sloping roof, usually with dormer windows (one-and-a-half stories).

The term originated in India, deriving from the Hindi word “बंगला” (baṅgala), meaning “Bengali” and used elliptically for a “house in the Bengal style”. This Asian architectural form and design originated in the countryside of Bengal region in South Asia. Such houses were traditionally small, of one story and detached, and had a wide veranda. The term was first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe “bungales or hovells” in India for English sailors of the East India Company. Later it became used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the British Raj, and was so known in Britain and later America, where it initially had high status and exotic connotations. The style began to be used in the late 19th century for large country or suburban residential buildings built in an Arts and Crafts or other Western vernacular style — essentially as large cottages, a term also sometimes used. Later developers began to use the term for smaller buildings.

The house my family lived in while I was in grade school and junior high was a classic bungalow. A recent photo of the house:


Lots of brick. Back in the 1940s, instead of garden plots in front, there were gigantic yew (Taxus) bushes on either side of the front walk, and tall arborvitaes (Thuja) flanking the front steps. The second floor had two bedrooms with steeply slanted ceilings on the sides.

Features of the bungalow style could be worked into much grander houses, as in this ornament of my Palo Alto neighborhood, just a block east of my house:


A full second stor(e)y, with the loft on the third floor. And a veranda / porch wrapping around two sides of the building. With a small garden (with fountain and a garden bench) in front, and a carefully tended larger garden along the right side, in back. A 2010 photo showing the side veranda clearly:


From a local history site:

The following is from the Historic Buildings Inventory as revised in 1983:

Physical appearance:   The simple box–like form of this two–story structure, together with a prow-shaped bay and simplified porch detailing, lends Prairie School overtones to a basically Colonial Revival design. The building is surfaced in narrow clapboard and shingles…

Significance: The broad overhang of the porch and the angled bay provide the structure with a dramatic horizontal sweep. Colonial Revival and Prairie School stylistic elements are combined in a familiar “Four–square” hipped-roof plan.

Major H.F. Perry (1834–1926), for whom the house was built, was a Civil War veteran who had risen through the ranks and was twice wounded. After the war he entered the limestone mining industry in Indiana and, before coming to Palo Alto in 1901, engaged in gold mining and dredging near Oroville, Calif. In 1921, the Perrys sold to Alfred Engle (Stanford A.B., 1907), a resident of the city since 1903. Engle conducted a real estate, insurance, and loan bueiness in Palo Alto for over 35 years. From 1935 to 1957 the house was owned by Colonel Harry H. and Lola Pattison. Pattison was a retired U.S. Army officer who served in both the Spanish–American War and World War I.

When the Historic Inventory was established, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation owned this house and it was used for office space. [PAMF had long outgrown its original buildings at 300 Homer Ave., at Bryant St., and had facilities spread out over a 9-block area of downtown Palo Alto, mostly in private houses converted to office space, as at 737 Bryant.]

This house was built in 1903 by Gus Laumeister…

The building is now the headquarters of Radar Partners, a venture capital and investment firm founded in 2004 by Doug MacKenzie and Kevin Compton..

Porky and the lawyer. Enough of domestic architecture, back to Porky Pig. From Wikipedia:

The Case of the Stuttering Pig is a Looney Tunes animated cartoon, starring Porky Pig and Petunia Pig, released to theaters on October 30, 1937. This short was directed by Frank Tashlin, and the music was composed by Carl Stalling. The title is a parody of The Case of the Stuttering Bishop, a Perry Mason mystery that Warner Bros. had filmed earlier that year.

On a dark and stormy night, Porky and his brothers (Patrick, Percy, Portis, Peter) and sister (Petunia) learn from lawyer Goodwill that they are set to inherit a fortune from their deceased rich uncle Solomon, with the “kindly” lawyer next in line after them…

You can watch the whole cartoon here.

Final terminological note. One finally oddity, not explained in any of the material on the Little Tavern shops I’ve unearthed, is the tavern in the name. The shops have never, so far as I can tell, served alcohol — in fact, their sliders were often touted as protection from or antidotes for hangovers — while the noun tavern in English has always referred to a drinking place. From NOAD:

noun tavern: chiefly archaic or North American an establishment for the sale of beer and other drinks to be consumed on the premises, sometimes also serving food. ORIGIN Middle English: from Old French taverne, from Latin taberna ‘hut, tavern.’ Compare with tabernacle [< dimin. ‘tent’ of taberna].

And OED2 says of the noun:

In early use, A public house or tap-room where wine was retailed; a dram-shop; in current use = public house

The ‘hut’ sense of Latin taberna would naturally supply a name for the tiny Little Tavern stores, but I can’t find any evidence that this sense has ever had any currency in English, or that Harry F. Duncan, the founder of the Little Tavern chain, would have had knowledge of the Latin usage. So he probably just chose the name for its warm associations with taverns as communal gathering places.

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