The Bethesda Hamburger Hamlet will soon be gone, but the man who partnered with the restaurant last year in an attempt to revive it hopes to keep his operation going in the same space.
W.W. “Biff” Naylor, who owns the L.A.-based Du-par’s diner chain, took over operation of the restaurant in November 2012, added breakfast items and pastries to the menu, opened it 24 hours and added the Du-Par’s name.
But, as first reported by blogger Robert Dyer, Hamburger Hamlet filed for bankruptcy in April and auctioned off the 8,500-square-foot restaurant (10400 Old Georgetown Rd.) on Oct. 30. Naylor said Du-par’s bought the restaurant and it will now be solely a Du-par’s diner, though he’s hoping to work out a new lease.
Complicating matters is the online auction of most of the tables, chairs and kitchen equipment that Hamburger Hamlet owned and that Du-par’s still uses. The auction closes Friday. Naylor said he’s coming to town this week and Du-par’s will do its best to keep the restaurant open.
That might require leasing new equipment, Naylor said. The transition will require getting a new liquor license from Montgomery County.
“We won’t close for a minute if I can make it all happen,” said Naylor, before admitting, “nobody knows right now.”
You can expect the Hamburger Hamlet sign that has greeted visitors at Georgetown Square Shopping Center for years to soon disappear. Original Hamburger Hamlet owners Marilyn and Harry Lewis opened the restaurant — the first location on the east coast — in 1973.
The large dining room and bar area fits about 350 customers. Naylor said Du-par’s would like to take over other Hamburger Hamlet locations in Crystal City and in California.